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Cornell University Library 
F 864 A13 

Recollections of a California pioneer / 


3 1924 028 919 715 




Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 92402891 971 5 




"flE NEALE PUBDSIIiNG C<»_!?\ .:^%. 







The Neami PuBUSHiNa Compant 





my children and my grandchildren 
this volume is affectionately inscribed. 



Foreword 9 


I. Eaelt Years 11 

II. Off fob Califoenia 18 

III. The Valley of the Platte ... 26 

IV. Swimming the Platte 34 

V. The Gbat Wolf 45 

VI. Westwabd 53 

VII. The Desert 63 

VIII. At the Carson Riveb 72 

IX. At the Mines 86 

X. Judge Lynch and Yankee Slide . 98 


XII. Just an Incident 117 

XIII. Right Place — ^Wbong Time . . . 124 

XIV. HoMEWAED Bound 128 

XV. The Second Teip Across .... 134 

XVI. Menaced by the Pawnees . . . 140 

XVII. At Sacramento — Flood and Fire . 145 
XVIII. The Wrecks of the Sea Nymph and 

Long Island 151 



XIX. Salinas Vallbt— A Bull and Bear 

Fight 165 

XX. Eablt Salinas Valley Politics . . 169 

XXI. Business Ventubes 164 

XXII. In Arizona 169 

XXIII. An Awful Joubnet, and a Fool Bar- 

gain 172 

XXIV. Uncle Ben's Escape 179 

XXV. An Apache Wab Dance .... 183 

XXVI. Seeing the Countet 189 

XXVII. Presentiments 200 

XXVIII. Arizona Politics 205 

XXIX. A Kemindeb of a Fool Bargain . . 210 
XXX. The Apache Indian and His Atroci- 
ties 216 

XXXI. The Peck Familt 219 

XXXII. An Arizona Romance 222 

Epiloqub 234 


This book of Recollections was entirely writ- 
ten after I had passed my eighty-eighth birth- 
day, the chief inducement to the undertaking 
being a desire on my part to leave to my child- 
ren, my grandchildren, and their posterity a 
story of my long life. 

There will, therefore, be found in these pages 
some things that will prove of little or no inter- 
est to the average reader; but these purely per- 
sonal passages are, I trust, few in number, and 
they may be readily skipped. 

That all my readers will give full credence to 
everything that is hereinafter related is more 
than I can reasonably expect; but this consid- 
eration does not militate against the truth of 
the statement I now make: that, however ex- 
travagant, however extraordinary, some of the 
incidents here referred to may api)ear, I have 
endeavored to give a truthful narrative, and 
that, while the lapse of years and the infirmities 
of age have doubtless caused my memory to 
fail in reference to exact dates, distances, di- 
rections, and such trifling matters, I have in all 
the substantials presented the truth. 

The term "California Pioneer," in its strict 

10 Foreword 

application, includes only those who reached 
the State prior to January 1, 1850; and while 
I do not quite measure up to this standard, I 
have thought that this acknowledgment may 
soften the criticism that otherwise would prop- 
erly follow my appropriation of a label of 
which those dauntless old heroes have always 
been so justly proud. 

The frequent use I have made of the first 
personal pronoun singular, — not less offensive 
to the author than to the reader, — was rendered 
necessary by the nature of the production ; how- 
ever, as the word makes for brevity, this blem- 
ish is in a measure compensated. 

Making no pretension to literary excellence, 
I shall not complain of the criticisms of the 
learned concerning the literary qualities of this 
production; for it is just what it purports to 
be : a plain life history of a plain old man. 

Caelisle S. Abbott. 
Salinas, Cal., 1917. 




In a large farmhouse on the eastern shore of 
Lake Memphremagog, about twelve miles north 
of the line between Canada and Vermont, on 
the 26th day of February, 1828, I became an 
inhabitant of this little planet, — over which we 
crawl for a few short years, much as a lady- 
bug crawls over a pumpkin, — ^where we liv«, and 
love, and strive, and fight. 

Therefore I am a Canadian, although my 
parents were from Connecticut. They emi- 
grated to Canada when that country was a 
dense forest, and they had to clear the land of 
timber, then of stumps. Then a crop of rocks 
appeared, which had to be dug out and either 
made into fences or rolled down into the lake. 
One of my earlier recollections is of Father say- 
ing to us three younger boys, — Harvey, Alvin, 
and Carr : 


12 A Ccdifomia Pioneer 

"Let's go down to th.e lake and have some 
fun rolling rocks down the hill and see them 
jump into the water." 

Well, it was fun aU right, hut late in the after- 
noon we got tired, and Harvey said : 

"Look here, Carr, don't Father mean this 
for work?" 

It did not take long for us to conclude that 
he did ; and we went home. 

Jjo. the winter, when the snow covered the 
fences, Father would go to Montreal, eighty 
miles away, with butter, cheese, and hogs, which 
were frozen as hard as the ice that covered the 

Our house was an old-fashioned affajir, one 
and a half stories high, with a room eighteen 
or twenty feet square, in which, — ^not the least 
of its conveniences, — ^was a fireplace that would 
accommodate a log two feet in diameter and 
four feet long. 

The family originally consisted of seven sons 
and three daughters ; but some of my brothers 
being then of age, had refused to take the oath 
of allegiance to the British government and had 
gone to the United States. 

When I was quite small, a sister about six- 
teen years of age picked me up and went romp- 
ing across this big room with me sitting upon 
her left shoulder; but she accidentally let my 
legs slip from beneath her arm; this broke my 

Early Years 13 

hold on her neck, and I went over backward 
and down to the floor head first. And ever 
since then I seem to have been, most of the 
time, either wrong end up, or in the right place 
at the wrong time. 

At the age of eight years my mother died, 
giving me in charge of an older brother, Abiel. 
I have no fault to find with Abiel, but he was 
the greatest worker of any age or country, and 
cared nothing for amusements. In the winter 
he would go into the pine woods on some timber 
contract and leave me with all the chores to 
do, — ^feeding stock, milking cows, and chopping 
open water holes (which used to freeze over 
every night) for the cattle to drink from, and 
as this made me late to school, black marks 
were the result. 

On one occasion, when I was seventeen years 
old, I took the black mare and Hght wagon and 
went away three miles, got my best girl, and 
went to an apple-paring. We pared apples un- 
til midnight, had a banquet, and then danced 
imtil daylight. The sun was well up when I 
got home; and I got the scolding of my life. 

About two weeks later a neighbor had an- 
nounced an apple-paring for the afternoon. I 
told Abiel that my two next older brothers 
were going and I wanted to go, but he said 
"No." We were digging potatoes on a rocky 
hillside, and Abiel remarked that he wanted to 

14 A California Pioneer 

get those potatoes dug before the snow fell, 
saying, moreover, that I was getting rude and 
unsteady, and was running around with the 
girls and did not earn my board. I happened 
to be picking up potatoes at the time and was 
about ten feet from him, with about a peck of 
potatoes in the basket; so I slung it at him 
with all my strength, and the potatoes went all 
over him. I broke and ran, and at every jump 
I made down that hill I thought he was in 
my last step, but I could not look back, for that 
would take time. Finally I had to turn a square 
corner to go around the barn, and, looking back, 
saw he was standing in the same spot, leaning 
on his hoe-handle. For years after, whenever 
I thought of him, whether it was light or after 
I had closed my eyes at night, I could see him 
leaning on that hoe-handle, looking after the 
runaway boy who did not return. 

I went to the house, put on my best suit, tied 
my other clothes up in a bundle, went to the 
apple-paring, and danced as I had never danced 
before, for I was not only mad but scared about 
my present situation, — ^with no place to go after 
the dance. I had left the bundle of everyday 
clothes in the brush along the road, which was 
all the home I now had ; and that infernal poem 
that I had recited at our evening spelling-school 
kept running through my head. I can recall but 
two of these verses : 

Early Years 15 

Pity the sorrows of a poor old man 

Whose trembling limbs have borne him to your door, 
Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span, 

Oh, give relief, and Heaven will bless your store! 

These tattered clothes my poverty bespeak. 

These hoary locks procl^m my lengthened years, 

And ma.Tiy a furrow down my grief -worn cheeks 
Has been the channel for a flood of tears. 

My two older brothers, Harvey and Alvin, 
were at the dance, and wanted to know what the 
blazes was the matter with me to-night, remark- 

"You dance every set and slash the girls 
around as though they were bundles of straw." 

I told them the whole story. They insisted 
on my going home with them to breakfast, which 
I did; and after that I struck out for a job. 
Finally, after two days' search, I got employ- 
ment at eight dollars a month until the school 
opened. Then I went to school and worked for 
my board nights and mornings. 

The following summer I worked for Ealph 
Merry at Magog. He had a store in town and 
a farm near by. Wages big, — five dollars per 
month in cash, and five dollars in trade out of 
the stoire! However, I saved money enough to 
take me to Wisconsin, — the "Far West," as it 
was then called, — where I had four brothers, 
and where I remained until 1850, when I started 
for California. Brother Alvin and I ran one 
of those old-fashioned, eight-horse, sweep 
threshing machines in '48 and '49. This would 

16 A Calif orma Pioneer 

not be worth mentioning if it were not for an 
incident that took place in 1849, wMle thresh- 
ing for a man by the name of Pox. 

The farmers had to furnish all the help in 
those days. Fox was a temperance man, and 
did not allow liquor around if he knew it. New- 
ell, one of the employees, loved it dearly, and 
he managed to smuggle in a jug of whiskey, 
got drunk, and fell off the stack. As this put 
Newell completely out of commission, the grain 
was not now coming fast enough, and Pox went 
to get another man to take Newell 's place; but 
soon a white flag was put out of the window 
to announce that lunch was ready. "We were 
afraid Pox would not be able to get the neces- 
sary help, so we tried to wake Newell and get 
him to the house, thinking a lunch would fix 
him for the afternoon's work. We shook him, 
stood him on his head, and tried to shake the 
whiskey out of him, but without result. At 
length some one said : 

"He is dead, let's bury him." The ground 
was a sandy loam and easy digging, and we 
soon had a hole two feet deep at one end and 
tapering to the surface at the other. We put 
in some straw, laid Newell in, then put on more 
straw, then piled on dirt, and patted it down 
just leaving his face above ground, and went to 
lunch. On our return Newell was awake, but 
he could move neither hand nor foot, though 
he could move his tongue, and he used some 

Early Years 17 

language which, as Bret Harte would say, was 
' ' frequent and painful and f ree. " We dug him 
out and started him for the house. I never ex- 
pected to help bury him again, but I was called 
upon to do so the following year. 



Cubing the following winter ( '49- '50) brother 
Alvin and I, attracted like so many others by 
the reported discoveries of gold in California, 
determined to go to that land of promise. The 
usual outfit was a four-horse team and a two-- 
horse wagon, which would carry sufificient sup- 
plies for four men, who could mess together. 

There were many people taking the trip, and 
we at length formed connection with two men 
named Mellon and Vetter. They put up two 
horses, while Alvin and I contributed a like 
number, — each man to pay his proportion for 
the wagon and necessary supplies, and all four 
to stick together, sick or well, until the "land 
of gold" should be reached. Two other out- 
fits of the same kind joined us, making a com- 
pany of twelve, all agreeing to share camp and 
guard duty on the trip. 

"We left Beloit, Wisconsin, March 3, 1850. 
There was a large crowd assembled to see us 
off, and while shaking hands with wives, sisters, 
and sweethearts, I slipped over to Dr. Merri- 
man's to bid my fiancee Elizabeth good-by, and 


Off For CaMfornia 19 

give her a smack, without the crowd's looking 

Nothing of importance occurred during our 
trip to the Missouri Eiver, which we reached 
at a point opposite where Omaha is now situ- 
ated. Here we crossed in a skiff to visit a 
Frenchman named Sarpie, then the only resi- 
dent of the now flourishing city of Omaha. He 
had a large log house and was engaged in trad- 
ing with the Indians, exchanging knickknacks 
for peltry. He told us we should not think of 
crossing the plains with so small a company; 
that we would need a guard at camp and two 
men out with the horses, and guard duty would 
come too often. Furthermore, he said we might 
have trouble with the Indians and get wiped 
out; and as to swimming the Platte to lead a 
band of horses across, — it was full of quicksand 
that would settle in our clothes and sink us. 

We were, however, undismayed by his dire 
predictions, and upon returning to the east side 
of the river, the "City of Tents," we found the 
numerous outfits there assembled discussing the 
matter of consolidating into companies of from 
fifty to seventy-five men. 

We joined one of these companies, which had 
a man by the name of Clark for its captain. 
Clark had been an Indian trader and knew the 
whole eastern slope of the Eockies as well as 
the climatic conditions, and he was likewise 

20 A California Pioneer 

familiar with the Indian tribes, their customs 
and habits. 

Our company consisted of fifty-three men. 
Captain Clark appointed a committee to see 
that each separate company had a sufficient 
supply of food, and that each man had a rifle, 
a pistol and a sufficient supply of ammunition. 
Without these necessaries no man could join 
our company. One of our number, by the 
name of Pardee, died of pneumonia the day be- 
fore we crossed the river, and was buried where 
now rests the eastern end of the great railroad 
bridge spanning the river. The fifty-two of us 
crossed the river on the 20th day of March, 
and camped near Sarpie's store, and the next 
morning we started westward over a gently 
undulating prairie. This ground had been 
burned over the previous fall, and the new short 
grass would hardly sustain stock even if it did 
not have to work, but we each had a few sacks 
of kiln-dried com meal for such an emergency, 
so we were able to move along at about ten or 
twelve miles a day, until we passed the Loup 
fork of the Platte, near its junction with that 

About twelve miles west of the Missouri we 
came to a small stream, whose banks were 
nearly perpendicular and about ten feet apart, 
and whose depth was about six or nine feet, 
down to a muddy bottom. Those who had pre- 
viously passed over this place had cut down the 

Off For CaMfornia 21 

banks on each side and had crossed by first 
taking the teams over, then running a wagon 
down into the stream, and then hitching a chain 
to the tongue and pulling the wagon out. Cap- 
tain Clark said that it would take until dark 
to get our outfits across in that way, and told 
us we had better turn our teams out and build 
a bridge. 

There was a clump of Cottonwood trees about 
three hundred yards up the stream, and here 
we cut four logs, about eighteen feet long and 
one foot in diameter, for stringers; then we cut 
poles and brush for covering, and by dusk the 
bridge was completed and ready for use. Two 
years later I crossed the same bridge with ox 

We rolled out early next morning in order to 
reach the Loup before nightfall, as the fire had 
not burned the country to the west of that 
stream, and the feed there was good. We had 
traveled some six or eight miles when Captain 
Clark, who had gone ahead on horseback, came 
back on the run, shouting : 

"Go into camp quick! Put the wagons in a 
circle. Lash the tongue of one wagon to the 
inside hind-wheel of the next, forming a cor- 

"Whal^What the blazes is the matter?" a 
dozen voices cried. 

"There is a red blanket spread across the 
road a few rods ahead," replied Clark. 

22 A Califorma Pioneer 

This was a signal for a big laugh. 

"Can't we drive over a blanket, or throw it 
out of the way, or drive around it?" 

"No; it is an Indian notice that they want a 
parley, — a friendly talk with the captain of 
this company, and if we drive over the blanket, 
it is to defy them; while if we throw it to one 
side or drive around it, it means that we ig- 
nore them ; so get into camp quick, and we wiU 
soon see a messenger." 

This satisfied us that Clark understood In- 
dian customs better than we did, so we rushed 
to form the corral, and before the horses were 
out to graze, six Indians sprang to their feet 
from a low swag in the plain about two hun- 
dred yards away. Clark beckoned them to ap- 
proach, which they did. One of them spoke 
broken English. He said : 

"Big Pawnee Chief wants to see your chief." 

"What for? What does he want?" replied 

But the messengers did not know, — or pre- 
tended not to know. They said he was at the 
river "four or five miles away, no more." 

"All right," returned Clark; "you go to the 
village. Go fast. I come." 

He then called to his partner Newcomb to 
saddle and come on; and the two kept close to 
the Indians' heels until the village was reached. 

The Chief's tepee was like all the others but 
larger. Clark and Newcomb rode in front of 

Off For California 23 

the big tepee and dismounted, and the Chief 
came out. He was a tall, robust man, slightly 
gray, and could speak English fairly well. He 

"You Chief of big train?" 

"Yes," replied Clark. "Me Chief. What 
do you want?" 

"Well," said the Indian, "you eat my grass. 
It makes game go away, and you kill my game." 

It is considered by the Indians to be very 
rude to interrupt an Indian Chief when he is 
talking, and Clark waited until he was through, 
before saying: 

"You have no grass, the fire burned it up. 
We have been in your country only two days, 
and have seen no game, and we do not want 
your game. We have plenty of meat, but we 
want grass when it grows. Now what do you 

"Well," answered the Chief, "I want two 
plugs of tobacco, four pounds of sugar in lumps, 
twenty pounds of flour and meal, three brass 
rings for my three wives to wear on their 
wrists, and lots of jews-harps for the babies." 

"All right," said Clark. "Send men to get 

He had written down the articles and had 
then started back for the train. Four Indians 
on their ponies followed, and the articles de- 
manded were contributed by our outfits. But 
before our teams were ready to start there were 

24 A Calif orma Pioneer 

at least one Imiidred men, boys, and girls there 
with, leggins, belts, hat-bands and buckskia 
purses and moccasins to trade for trinkets, 
brass rings, jews-harps and lump sugar, — as 
they called it. The Beloit outfit had nearly a 
peck of jews-harps, and we traded the most of 
them off. And talk about music 1 — it would 
have drowned the crack of a rifle. Clark told 
us not to give the Indians anything. 

"Make them give you something in exchange, 
no matter what. If you give to them, they 
think you do it because you are afraid of them. ' ' 

We finally got rid of the savages and were 
again on our way, reaching the Loup after dark, 
having made the trip laid out in the morning. 
We had not made enemies of the Indians, and 
this was very important, as their territory ex- 
tended for about two hundred miles west of 
where we were. We drove into a grove of oak 
and sycamore on the bank of the Loup, and put 
a guard of three men out with the horses and 
one man to guard camp. There was plenty of 
dry wood near, but it was too dark to get it; so 
we ate a cold Ijite, pitched our tents, and went 
to bed and to sleep on this our second night in 
the Indian country. 

At sunrise we were up and at work cutting 
wood, cooking, feeding horses, and attending to 
the other camp duties. When we got out of 
bed on this third day, we saw close to us Joe 
Bowers' wagon-train from Missouri, which, by 

Off For California 25 

reason of the darkness, had not been visible 
when we camped the night before. On one side 
of one of the wagons was the original song of 
"Joe Bowers," the first verse of which ran: 

"My name it is Joe Bowers, 

I have a brother Ike, 
We are from old Missouri, 

All the way from Pike." 



We got started in good time and at noon 
reached the Platte, where we found the feed 
much better. That part of the country had not 
been burned over, and as the old grass pro- 
tected the new, the horses ate both together, 
and the combination made fairly good feed. 

Nothing of importance happened for several 
days, the feed, however, getting better all the 
time. There were wagon-trains all along the 
road on both sides of the Platte, and every- 
body was banging away at the buffalo, scaring 
them away, or killing them and cutting out 
choice pieces and leaving the rest to rot, while 
the Indians and their wives and children were 
starving. It was the most flagrant injustice 
this Government ever permitted its people to 
practice. The lines between the different tribes 
were as distinctly marked as the boundaries 
between the different States of the Union, each 
of these tribes claiming the ownership of all 
the game within its borders, while recognizing 
the similar claims of other tribes, and they 
looked upon the emigrants as a white tribe in- 


The Valley of the Platte 27 

fringing upon their rights. Indeed I could not 
have blamed them if they had cleaned out the 
whole white tribe within their borders, for they 
had owned and occupied these lands long before 
Uncle Sam was bom, yet I was not ready to go 
for the fault of others. We shudder at the 
massacre of the whole nation of Armenians by 
the Turks, but no pen can describe the misery 
and despair of a Pawnee village, — of men, 
women and children dying of hunger, — ^while 
the white tribe was killing, or scaring their 
game off into the mountains, and I say that our 
Government here caused as much misery by 
negligence as the Turks have by savagery. 

The next trouble we had was with cholera. 
It struck the tide of emigration like a cyclone, 
and on both sides of the Platte. The dates on 
little headboards along the road were from one 
to three days old, which showed us that if we 
had been three days' drive farther west, — or 
about seventy-five miles, — ^we would have been 
ahead of the epidemic; but as all the other 
trains ahead of us were moving as fast as we 
could, we simply kept along with the disease. 
We had just reached that stretch of country 
where for two hundred miles there was not a 
stick of timber larger than a whipstock, and 
where buffalo chips must needs be used for fuel, 
when John Newell, whom I had helped once to 
bury in Wisconsin, died of cholera. He had 
with him two brothers, — from eighteen to 

28 A California Pioneer 

twenty-two years old, — and received tlie best 
of care and the skill of a good doctor. He was 
convalescent, but trouble unlooked for was in 
the air; black angry clouds along the east foot 
of the Rockies, with vivid streaks of lightning, 
were seen approaching, to take the place of the 
hot sultry air. 

* ' Get into camp ! ' ' yelled Clark. ' ' Place the 
wagons in V form, the point towards the west, 
and tie every horse inside the V. ' ' 

This done, some of the men commenced to 
put up tents. 

"Hold on there," cried the captain. "No 
tent will stand what is coming. Spread your 
tents over the front of the wagons to keep the 
wind from tearing the tops off. Tie them down 
to the forward wheels. ' ' 

This was barely done when the wind and rain 
struck us with such force that several men, who 
were not clinging to the wagon wheels, were 
knocked down and a number of wagon covers 
went away in the breeze; but, fortunately, they 
were carried over a perpendicular bank of the 
Platte on to a low bar, where they were re- 
covered the following day. 

Among the wagons that lost their covers was 
John Newell 's, and the rain was falling on him 
by bucketfuls. "We lifted him out of the wagon, 
bed and all, and put him under it ; but this did 
not better the matter. The wind and rain came 
with such force that he was as wet as though 

The Vallejf of the Platte 29 

he had just been pulled out of the river. The 
blizzard did not moderate until near morning, 
and meantime we clung to the back end of the 
wagons, as wet as water could make us. 

During the previous day five men had gone 
out mto the low hills to the north to get a buf- 
falo. They had killed one and had just got it 
packed on their horses when the blizzard struck 
them. They got separated and lost their way. 
Jnst before sunrise two of them came into 
camp, two more about ten o'clock, and the last 
one at noon. All had thrown away their meat. 

It was a busy day repairing wagon-tops and 
drying clothes. Newell had taken a relapse, 
and the doctor said he would surely die. The 
following morning, when we were ready to 
start, the doctor said John would not be alive 
m one hour from that time, and as no train 
stopped for a man to die, Clark asked me and 
my friend Phillips to stop and help the Newell 
brothers to bury him. We went just back of 
his tent, and we started to dig a grave; but as 
only one could work at a time we changed every 
few minutes, and though we made the dirt fly, 
John was ready before we had finished. We 
lowered him down, bed and all, and spread an 
extra pair of blankets over him, filled the grave 
and placed a piece of board, from the foot- 
board of the wagon, at the head of his last rest- 
mg-place, and upon this we wrote his name 
former place of residence, and cause of death' 

30 A California Pioneer 

And I presume the Nebraska farmers have been 
raising wheat over that spot for the last sixty- 
five years. 

While we were saddling our horses, the two 
brothers came, thanked us and said good-by. 

"Why good-by?" asked Phillips. "We will 
travel together and overtake the train in camp 
by eight to-night." 

"No," they replied; "we are going back." 

And they went, so our train of fifty-two was 
now reduced to forty-ninei 

Phillips and I found our train in camp at 
nine o'clock that night. On the way we counted 
the graves made the day before, and were sur- 
prised to find there were thirteen of them. 
While the blizzard had killed many, it had also 
cleared the atmosphere, and checked the epi- 
demic to a great extent. Here there was no 
wood for fuel, and as the buffalo chips were 
soaked to the center, we could not bum them; 
but we did not mind the absence of a fire, as we 
were prepared with all sorts of bread, sea bis- 
cuit, crackers, chipped beef, and so on, and were 
happy, for the grass was now fine. 

One afternoon as we neared the western edge 
of this treeless region, we saw directly in front 
of us a clump of trees, which was a welcome 
sight, for we would camp beneath tbe spreading 
branches and probably find some dry wood. It 
proved to consist of about eight or ten big cot- 

The Valley of the Platte 31 

tonwoods in a low swag in the plain. We drove 
under them, delighted. 

The horses were started off for the river for 
their evening drink by their caret^ers for the 
night, and we were all busy with our evening's 
work when some one said : 

"Where in blazes does that stench come 
from? Have we camped by the carcass of a 

All stopped and looked about. Soon some one 
yelled : 

"Look in the top of these trees !" 

All faces were turned in that direction, and 
there in the tops of those trees was the explana- 
tion. It was an Indian cemetery. We did not 
stop to hitch the horses, but twelve or fifteen 
men would take hold of a wagon and run it off 
to windward about one hundred and fifty yards, 
then go for another, and we soon had tents 
pitched and fires of buffalo chips burning. It 
was the custom of the tribe, through whose coun- 
try we were now passing, to wrap a corpse in a 
green buffalo hide and lash it to the branches of 
the largest trees that could be found. In the 
lapse of time the sun, the wind, and the rains 
would break the lashing, so that here and there 
would be a skull, a hand, or a shrunk shank 
sticking out. Bah, what a camping place I 

We had now traveled nearly four hundred 
miles in the valley of the Platte, — a plain almost 
level and from ten to fifteen miles wide, low 

32 A California Pioneer 

grassy hills. to the north, the river on the south, 
with steep bluffs close to the river. Looking 
east or west, the only thing to he seen, except 
grass, was emigrant trains every few miles, the 
farthest being mere dots in the distance, or an 
Indian village by the river. But a wonderful 
change has come around during the lifetime of 
those weary plodders, and there are few left to 
tell the story. 

It was several years before this country was 
settled, on account of the scarcity of timber, 
except near the Missouri River. Then a rail- 
road was built, and settlers could get coal at the 
stations, and the Government gave a certain 
sum for every tree that was planted and prop- 
erly cared for until it was five years old. 

Then the counties took it up and offered a 
reward for the man that planted the greatest 
number of trees during a specified time. In the 
spring of the year this reward was graduated 
into first, second, third, and fourth prizes. 

Eesult : Now, looking up or down this plain, — 
either from the hills on the north or the high 
bluffs on the south, — a change from savage to 
civilized life is seen. 

The farmers have fuel, fencing material, and 
wind-breaks; white cottages shine through the 
open glades in the timber, where roses bloom, 

"And olive yards and orchards green 
Along that once drear plain are seen." 

The Valley of the Platte 33 

The black smoke from the oil burners along 
the railroad has succeeded the smoke that curled 
from the tops of the Indian tepees along the 
river, and the shriek of the locomotive has taken 
the place of the crack of the ox-whip. 

A few days after leaving the Indian cemetery 
we reached a point on the Platte opposite Fort 



Hebe we had to cross the river, and one hun- 
dred miles farther southwest we had to cross 
back again, on account of a mountain that 
butted up against the river on the north side. It 
was generally supposed that there was no pass 
through this mountain for wagons, yet there 
was, but the inhabitants of Fort Laramie, with 
their stores, blacksmith shops, and ferrymen, 
were determined to keep this a secret, as there 
was five dollars a wagon charged for crossing 
the river, besides the other trade that could be 
gathered in. The ferry carried wagons only, 
and we had to cross with our horses about two 
hundred yards above the ferry, there being at 
that point a good place to enter the stream, and 
a similar place to leave it on the other side. 
The river was about a half-mile wide, running 
quicksand and ice water from the melting snow 
of the Rockies. It should here be stated that 
it is very difficult to get a band of horses to 
cross a stream where they are compelled to 
swim, and it is practically impossible to do so, 
unless they have a leader to show them the way 


Swimming the Platte 35 

over. I had one horse named Pompey (Pomp), 
a big, sturdy, black animal, which had been bred 
and raised near Beloit, on the Rock River. He 
was accustomed to the water, and was not only 
a very rapid but a very strong swimmer, his 
extra girth holding him well up on the surface. 
I had used him to lead the band in crossing the 
Cedar, the Des Moines, and the Loup rivers, 
but I now refused to lead the band across the 
Platte, as I thought I had done my share; so 
I told Captain Clark to get some one else. 

We first put the horses in the river three 
times, and each time, having no leader, they 
came back on the same side. ■ The wagons had 
all been carried across on the ferry, and as no 
one would undertake to lead the horses, I finally 
consented to try it. We took the horses farther 
up-stream for a new attempt. The place se- 
lected for the start looked the same as below, 
— shallow at the shore and then down gradually 
to deep water, — ^but when Pomp stepped off the 
low bank he went down out of sight, and I with 
him. When we came to the surface my hat, 
which was the only garment I had on when I 
entered the water, was sailing merrily down- 
stream and may be going yet, for all I know. 
I grabbed Pomp by the tail with my left hand, 
and in order not to encumber him with my 
weight, I used my feet in swimming. In my 
right hand I held a long stick, with which I kept 
tapping him on the nose on the down-river side. 

36 A California Pioneer 

so as to make him lay quartering up-stream. 
The other horses, were rushed in as soon as I 
was fairly started, and with the band about 
twenty feet behind me, we went all right until 
we reached about the middle of the river. At 
this point the horses, frightened at some float- 
ing object in the water, stampeded, and before 
I realized the danger, they were practically on 
top of me, and one of them, reaching over my 
head and to Pomp's back, forced both Pomp and 
myself beneath the surface of the murky waters. 
Without a leader, the band now stopped and 
began to "mill" (go around and around in a 
close pack), while old Pomp and I were under- 
neath, among their flying feet. I managed to 
get hold of the mane of one horse, and squeezed 
my head above the pack, which was now moving 
rapidly down-stream with the current. It did 
not require long for me to take in the situation. 
The river at this point followed a straight 
course to the eastward, but about half a mile 
below the ferry it turned abruptly toward the 
south. The current, of course, did not turn 
around this curve, but kept straight ahead and 
impinged on the east side against a perpendicu- 
lar bank fifteen or twenty feet high, from which 
great chunks of earth were falling, as the cur- 
rent struck and undermined it, while nearby 
were whirlpools and eddies that would quickly 
swamp and drown any land animal. I feared 
that the entire band of horses, as well as the 

Swimming the Platte 37 

leader, would be lost in these swirling waters, 
and as I was powerless to do anything to pre- 
vent this, I determined to save myself, if pos- 
sible, though the chance seemed slim enough. 

I knew that if I attempted to swim directly 
toward the shore the horses would overtake me 
in a few seconds and we would all go into the 
whirlpool together. I scrambled onto the back 
of one horse and then stepped from one to an- 
other, as a boy would cross over a lot of logs in 
a pond, until I reached the one farthest down 
the stream. I then dived into the river and 
swam rapidly down-stream under water as long 
as I could hold my breath. Upon coming to the 
surface I looked back for the horses. Old 
Pomp had got to the surface, and upon seeing 
a lot of government horses upon the other side 
of the river, which had evidently been driven 
there to decoy the band, was heading for the 
shore and I now knew that the horses were 
safe, but how about Carr Abbott? 

It is a matter of common knowledge that when 
a stream is rising it is higher in the middle and 
lowest at the shores, while the situation is just 
the reverse when it is falling; and in the case 
of a large river the extent of the difference will 
very much surprise one who has never before 
actually observed it. The Platte was now a 
raging torrent, yet it was in fact falling, and I 
therefore had against me the additional circum- 

38 A California Pioneer 

stance that I was in a considerable depression, 
or trongh, from whicli I had to "climb out." 

It takes me some time to write it, but it took 
only a few seconds for me to think and act. I 
placed my body quartering up-stream, in order 
to get the aid of the current in driving me shore- 
ward, and here made the most desperate strug- 
gle for life I ever had. There was a clump of 
willow brush just above the turn in the river to 
which I have referred, and I concluded that I 
must reach that clump of brush or there was 
absolutely no hope of my reaching shore at all. 
I realized also that the ice water in which I 
had now been floundering for some time was 
rapidly sapping my vitality, and I fought as 
only a drowning man can fight. There were 
about twenty soldiers following along the bank 
and throwing anything and everything they 
could get hold of out into the water for me to 
grasp. I yelled to them to stop, as I had to 
cross the current and my progress would be 
impeded by anything in my way, while my get- 
ting hold of any floating object would not assist 
me to the shore. In passing the willow brush, 
by probably the longest "reach" I ever made, I 
caught hold of a twig not larger than a lead 
pencil; but it held. And by pulling it down I 
was able to catch it higher up where it was 
larger, and in two or three more grabs I had 
hold of it where it was two inches in diameter, 
and was saved. 

Swimming the Platte 39 

The soldiers beat their way through the 
brush, and as they were unable to reach me 
directly, they quickly cut off the limb to which 
I was clinging and drew me to the bank. I was, 
of course, as stiff as a poker, and was altogether 
unable to stand; but they carried me to an 
Indian tepee nearby, and the squaw spread a 
buffalo robe by the fire, while the soldiers 
rubbed me until I was able to walk. 

In the meantime Brother Alvin had crossed 
the river, bringing my clothes with him. These 
were quickly put on, and as our train was now 
passing, I climbed into the wagon. The grass 
was so short hereabouts that we drove on up 
the river about two miles and went into camp 
in a grove on the river bank, where we found 
plenty of dry wood, and of course an abundance 
of the roiled water of the Platte. In addition 
to the little fires that were used by the different 
messes for cooking, we had a big log-fire, around 
which we sat and discussed the situation. 

There was, of course, the usual growling and 
grumbling among the dissatisfied. Under the 
restraint of friends and society, men behave 
fairly well, but away from that influence, if 
there is any cussedness in them, it is bound to 
come to the surface. Some of our company 
said we were going too slowly and the gold 
would all be dug out of California before we got 
there; others said we were going too fast and 
we would kill our horses and not get there at all, 

40 A California Pioneer 

unless we got tliere on foot. Clark, who was 
sitting on a stump, after listening to tliis com- 
plaining for a while finally got up and said : 

"I have heard all the growl I am going to 
hear. To-morrow morning I start with my two 
teams at the usual time, and all who want to 
go faster, get up early and be off; those who 
want to go slower, fall in behind, but I want 
to tell you something you probably have not 
thought of: We shall have to swim back over 
the Platte, and probably the Green will have to 
be ferried and swum, and if there are three com- 
panies, there will have to be three men to swim 
to lead the band, and the probabilities are that 
Carr Abbott will do no more swimming. Good 

And he went to his tent. 

Not a word more was said, but next morning 
we all rolled out together. 

The two streams of emigration, — that which 
crossed the Missouri at St. Joseph below the 
mouth of the Platte and that which reached 
Laramie from the north, — had now merged, and 
as the ferry at the upper crossing could not 
handle the outfits as fast as they came, it was 
necessary to register with the ferryman, and 
for each train to take its turn. In this situation 
Clark sent Newcomb on horseback to make the 
one hundred and twenty-five miles' distance to 
the ferry, with instructions to make the trip as 
fast as his horse could carry him. Arriving at 

Swimming the Platte 41 

the ferry, Newcomb informed the ferryman that 
he wanted to register the Clark Company of ten 

"Where is your company?" asked the ferry- 

"Just down the river, a bit outside this 
crowd, where the feed is better than it is here," 
said Newcomb. 

Our train was at once registered, although it 
was nearly one hundred miles away, and as a 
result of this foresight on the part of Clark, 
we had to wait but three days at the ferry. The 
next train ahead of us was from Kentucky and 
had about eighty head of horses. Our horses 
were in a close band just behind, with all hands 
standing around them, ready to move as soon 
as the Kentuckians were out of the way. They 
put their horses into the river several times, 
but they came out on the same side each time. 
Then a big, stout rider, mounted with saddle, 
bridle, big spurs, clothes, and all, rode into the 
river, and the remainder of the horses followed ; 
but the leader sank lower and lower and finally, 
when a little more than haK-way across, both 
man and horse went out of sight and were not 
seen again ; but the balance of the horses crossed 
over aU right. 

I was now undressing to take our band across, 
when brother Alvin and Phillips came to me and 
begged me not to make the attempt; but I had 
learned how to swim rivers and now had no 

42 A California Pioneer 

fears. I took the precaution this time to leave 
my hat with brother Alvin, for there was no 
place nearer than Salt Lake City where I could 
get another one if I lost this. Again I got old 
Pomp out into the stream, and with a long stick 
I guided him, holding his tail with my left hand 
when tapping his nose with the stick, and carry- 
ing the stick between my teeth when not guid- 
ing him, thus enabling myself to use one hand 
and both feet in swimming. If the band got 
within thirty feet of me, I would give old Pomp 
a crack with my long stick, and he would draw 
away from the others. When his forefeet struck 
the long beach on the opposite bank, I mounted 
him and rode up the bank, the band following, 
while the men on the other shore sang or yeUed : 

"One more river to cross!" 

On the following day we reached the Sweet- 
water, a tributary of the Platte, and were now 
in the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains. The 
South Pass, so-called, is a little over twenty 
miles wide, and is a gently undulating grassy 
plain until the summit is reached, over one hun- 
dred miles west. The river runs close to the 
north side of this plain, at the foot of a long 
spur of the Rockies, which is for the greater 
part of the way almost perpendicular. On the 
south the mountain is not so steep, but, as it 
slopes to the north, the canyons and benches 
were covered with snow. 

There was one man in our company by the 

Swimming the Platte 43 

name of Losee. He was the oldest member of 
our company, and rather ilUterate. He had two 
sons,— one about eighteen years of age, the 
other about twenty. When we were well up 
toward the summit and were one evening sitting 
around the big camp-fire talking about the snow 
on the opposite side of the plain, old Losee 
finally could stand it no longer, and he called 
us a pack of damned fools for our reference to 
this snow, saying: "That is white rocks. If it 
was snow it would melt, for it is at least two 
thousand feet nearer the sun than it is here, and 
of course warmer, and would melt." 

After the laugh was over, the oldest Losee 
boy said he would go over there in the morning 
and get some of that snow in order to convince 
the old man. Clark, who seldom joined in the 
camp-fire conversation, said : 

' ' Young man, do not go. That snow is a long 
way up the mountain after you cross the plain. 
You could not reach it before sundown; then 
you would be thirty miles south of here and we 
would be thirty miles west." 

"When morning came young Losee was gone. 
He had not reached us the next morning, but 
as we were eatiag lunch, and old man Losee and 
the younger son were getting ready to go back 
and try to find him, he came into camp. He was 
plied with so many questions that he did not try 
to answer any of them, but just said: 
"Jim, give me something to eat." 

44 A California Pioneer 

At two o'clock that afternoon (about June 
25tli) we reached tlie summit, where we stopped 
and took a good look at the western slope of the 
backbone of the Continent. The country was 
rough and in the distance looked black, being 
covered with grease wood and wild sage, with 
isolated glades of grass and numerous peaks of 
volcanic slag. The second night on the west 
side we camped on the bank of a small stream 
called the Big Sandy, a tributary of the Green 
Eiver. Our camp locator had found a nice 
patch of grass, about a mile and a half to the 
north of the road, and was at the little stream 
awaiting our coming. 



Fbom the time we crossed the Sweetwater 
until we reached Salt Lake we were compeUed 
to put out a guard of four men every night, to 
protect our horses from the attacks of the big 
gray wolves with which that country was in- 
fested. A smaller number of men would not 
engage in this service because of the danger, 
and upon the particular night to which I am 
now to refer, I was to be one of the herders. 

The three men who were to accompany me got 
started ahead of me, and before I reached the 
feeding ground, which was distant about two 
miles from our camp, a thick fog had drifted in, 
makmg it impossible to see any considerable 

It was rather a cabn night, although there 
was a slight breeze blowing, and as it was not 
yet cold, I carried my overcoat on my arm.' I 
also had a six-shooter and a government musket 
(powder and ball), and, in an endeavor to locate 
my companions, I fired the musket, but, getting 
no response, I reloaded the musket and started 
back (as I supposed) toward camp. I should 


46 A Calif ornia Pioneer 

have gone south, but, as I afterwards ascer- 
tained, I actually was traveling due west, and 
instead of reaching our camp, or the Emigrant 
Road, the course I took was parallel to that 
road. The night was very dark, and, while I 
was always hoping to reach camp or the road, 
I was puzzled by the distance I apparently had 
covered without reaching either. 

Suddenly, about midnight, I heard the howl of 
a wolf, and it almost froze me in my tracks. I 
could not tell the distance from which this 
dreadful sound came, but /I judged it to have 
been perhaps a mile. I knew that when one of 
these animals either sights or scents game he 
dares not attack alone, he howls for assistance, 
and immediately starts toward the game. Very 
soon I heard another wolf, somewhat farther 
away, answer and apparently start in the direc- 
tion of the leader. I stopped and listened, and 
presently I heard wolves howUng from five or 
six different points, and apparently getting 

There was, of course, not a tree in this whole 
region, and not thinking of anything better to 
do, I started to run, yet not knowing where, for 
the night was by this time so dark that I could 
not see twenty feet before me. I stumbled along 
as best I could over the short brush, and at 
length ran directly into a clump of grease wood, 
whose short, stiff thorns badly scratched my 

The Gray Wolf 47 

hands and face, before I fell headlong over a 
clump of wild sage. 

The howKng of the wolves, which was inces- 
sfntly kept up, now indicated with certainty 
fihat the pack was concentrating, and as it grew 
more distinct, I knew that the beasts of prey 
were rapidly approaching their supper feast. I 
had run perhaps half a mile and by this time 
was panting perceptibly; I was quite exhausted, 
and my underclothing was soaked with perspi- 
ration, caused not perhaps so much by my exer- 
tions as by the imminent danger with which I 
was threatened, 
_ As I had kept warm by running, I still car- 
ried my overcoat on my arm, and now, in order 
to lighten my load, I dropped it. In addition 
to lightening my load the dropping of my over- 
coat had another effect, for very shortly I heard 
the wolves tearing it and snarling over it, and 
this delayed them for a few moments in their 
pursuit. I quickly concluded that it was of no 
use to run farther, that it was inevitable I must 
hght it out sooner or later; and I thought that 
if I could get my breath before they reached 
me, and could succeed in killing one of them 
they might follow their well-known habit of 
pouncing upon and devouring their dead or 
wounded fellow, which might afford me an op- 
portunity of escape,— although I knew not how 
I immediately got down to a slow walk, and 
I had not gone a dozen steps when I found be- 

48 A California Pioneer 

fore me one of those volcanic upheavals wMch I 
have heretofore mentioned. There was a crev- 
ice or break in this not more than four feet wide 
at the entrance, and into this I quickly stepped. 

The width of this break or crevice was such 
that I could be attacked but from one side, 
and I felt that, at the least, I would have the 
satisfaction of killing one or more of my pur- 
suers before they reached me, and if they 
stopped to devour the slain, some way out might 
be found for me ; although it must be conceded 
that my prospects looked dismal enough. 

It should be remembered that this was before 
the day of repeating weapons. Had I been 
armed with a modern Winchester, the contest 
would have been unequal enough, but I would 
still have had a chance ; with weapons, however, 
that could be reloaded only by means of powder 
and ball, the situation was, of course, altogether 

I did not stop at the entrance of this crevice, 
but kept on walking along it, though unable to 
see either where it stopped or whither it led. 
It was quite steep, and got narrower as I ad- 
vanced, until I presently found my progress 
almost shut off by a big rock jutting out about 
two feet from the one side into the crevice. I 
found that by rolling a rock about eighteen 
inches in diameter against its perpendicular 
side, I was able to get my hands on the upper 

The Gray Wolf 49 

edge. Placing my rifle and pistol on top of the 
rock, I drew myself up as quickly as I could. 

It proved none too soon; for I liad hardly 
reached my perch when this pack of timber 
wolves, — fifteen or twenty in all, — came rushing 
up the crevice. They immediately located my 
position, and during the entire night they were 
one after another continually making the most 
desperate attempts to reach the top of the rock 
upon which I was perched, falling back each 
time with snarls of rage. 

Why did I not shoot? There were two rea- 
sons. In the first place it was now bitter cold, 
and my fingers were so stiff that it would have 
been difficult, if not quite impossible, to reload, 
and, agaia, I thought that by some possibility 
one more agile than the rest might reach my 
place of refuge, and I kept my weapons loaded 
for such an emergency. In order to keep from 
freezing, I would rest the muzzle of the rifle 
on the rock, and, holding the breech in my hand, 
would "slap" the soles of my shoes upon the 
hard stone ; then I would lay the rifle down and 
"slap" my arms around my body. And dur- 
ing all this time the wolf orchestra played on 
in the pit below me, with the glaring eyes of 
those fifteen or twenty gray devils, like balls of 
fire, for footlights. 

It does not take long to tell this harrowing 
experience, but it was by far the longest and 
bitterest night of my life. I got very tired of 

50 A Calif omia Pioneer 

this hard work which was necessary to keep me 
from freezing, for I was eight thousand feet 
above sea level, — where there is frost every 
night of the year, — a cold wind was blowing, 
my garments were soaked, and it seemed as if 
daylight would never, never come. I thought 
there must be something wrong with the world- 
machinery, that the planet must have jumped a 
cog ; but blessed daylight did come at last, and 
with its coming the cowardly pack of devils, — 
which had tortured me for what seemed to be 
an age, — slunk away. 

Assuring myself that they had abandoned the 
attack, I got down from my perch and made my 
way to the summit of this kopje, as they would 
call it in South Africa. It proved to be about 
forty or fifty feet high, three hundred feet wide 
and about one hundred and fifty yards long 
with perpendicular sides, a mass of volcanic 

I immediately looked for the smoke of some 
camp fire, or the dust from a passing train, but, 
as it proved, I had completely lost my bearings, 
and was, in fact, looking north instead of south. 
Finally, upon turning around, I saw at some 
distance the dust from a passing train, but could 
not see the train itself, because of the rough- 
ness of the country. It was not yet sun-up 
and it seemed to me that this train was headed 
eastward; but I was in a mood for investigat- 
ing, — hungry, tired, and with the bottoms of my 

The Gray Wolf 51 

feet covered with blood blisters, — so I hobbled 
toward this passing streak of dust nearly two 
miles away. 

It proved to be a small train of three wagons 
(ox teams) and a small band of loose cattle, 
with two men on horseback driving the cattle. 
I hailed them and inquired if they had given 
up their California trip, and were going back 
to the States. They eyed me a few seconds. 
Then one of them said : 

"Young man, you are lost. We are going 
west. Don't you belong to the Clark outfit?" 

"Yes, I do," I replied. 

"Well," said he, "all the men of your com- 
pany, except the Captain and doctor, are out 
hunting for your bones. They heard a big pack 
of wolves after you last night, and believe that 
you were surely killed. ' ' 

He then told me it was about six miles back 
to where our camp was, and for me to keep the 
road, even if it did look like going west to me. 
Well, of all the distance for six miles' walk! 
The night had surely been long, but those miles 
seemed to me like a hoop without an end. 

Finally, upon reaching the crest of a little 
ridge, I came in sight of our camp, and observed 
Clark standing by the camp fire. As soon as he 
caught sight of me he got his rifle and fired it, 
that being the signal they had agreed upon in 
case my bones were found. They were all sure 
I was dead, and there was of course not one 

52 A California Pioneer 

chance in a thousand of finding anytMng of 
one's remains in that rough, sage-brush 

On reaching camp I drank a cup of coffee, and 
Ijdng down in our tent, went to sleep. The doc- 
tor came in, pulled off my shoes, bathed my feet 
and cut open the blood blisters, without even 
awakening me during the operation. Phillips 
soon came in from the search and asked Clark 
who had found my bones, and if they had been 
brought in. 

"Yes," answered Clark; "they are brought 
in. They are in that tent. Take a look at 

Phillips threw back the flap of the tent and 
took a look. He came back grinning, and said: 

"Well, I'll be d ! Who found himl" 



When- we reached Salt Lake City, the Clark 
Company broke up into the original six compa- 
nies of which it had been composed, each con- 
sisting of from six to twelve men. 

Our company consisted of Bemis, Mellon, Vet- 
ter, Nathan Baker, Ben Baker, Job Strange, 
Phillips, Casey, Redington, the doctor, whose 
name I never knew, my brother Alvin, and my- 
self, — its original members. 

From Salt Lake City there were two routes 
westward, the main traveled road around the 
north end of the lake, and the other, called the 
"Southern Route," around the south end of the 
lake, — the southern being about one hundred 
miles shorter than the main road, but necessi- 
tating the crossing of a ninety-mile desert. 
Both routes again merged at the Carson River. 
Two or three of the companies went by the 
shorter route, while our company determined 
to take the main traveled way. 

One of the companies that took the shorter 
route was composed of a man by the name of 
Marsh, another by the name of Allen, and four 


54 A California Pioneer 

other men wlioin Allen and Marsh had taken 
into their company upon the payment of a stipu- 
lated sum of money. Marsh was a short, thick- 
set man, and as tough as a pine nut, while Allen 
was over six feet tall, rather slim, and was, 
moreover, the most profane man who ever hon- 
ored me with his acquaintance. 

Happening to meet Marsh in Sacramento two 
years later, I asked him how he got along on 
the ninety-mile desert. He replied : 


He then told me that they had started out 
early in the morning expecting to get across the 
desert by the following morning, but, as teams 
do not travel as fast by night as they seem to, 
their expectations were disappointed, and by 
eleven o'clock of the following morning all their 
horses lay dead in their tracks, and the canteens 
were empty ; that they had then taken a small 
quantity of food from their wagons and started 
for the shore (as the edge of the desert was 
called), intending to refresh themselves at the 
big spring and then return to their outfit, re- 
moving and taking away with them all the food 
they could carry; that while the road was good 
and hard, being composed of mixed sand and 
salt, it gleamed and glistened in the sun, and 
the heat was as vicious as it was bewildering, 
and finally Allen and one of the other men 
dropped to the ground exhausted, when, to the 

Westward 55 

amusement of all the others, Allen began to 

' ' Lord Almighty, send us just one drop of 
rain 1 ' ' 

Immediately from a few fleecy clouds scat- 
tering raindrops began to fall, and as AUen and 
his companion had a rubber blanket, they 
quickly spread it out. But not a sufficient quan- 
tity of water fell to admit of its running to- 

"The damphool," said Marsh; "might just 
as well have prayed for a barrel of water as 
for a drop, for he got ten times as much as he 
asked for." 

Marsh and the other three taen reached the 
spring, and after resting a few minutes, filled 
their canteens and started back. When the cool 
of the evening set in Allen and his companion 
were revived and had started on, and a little 
after dark they were met by Marsh and the 
others, were given water, and then all returned 
to the wagon, only to find that some thieving 
emigrant had stolen everything that was eat- 
able. Taking their rifles, they returned to the 
water, filled their canteens, and now, without an 
ounce of food, again took up the trail for "the 
land of gold," — the distance to the junction of 
the roads, where it would be possible to pro- 
cure food, being nearly three hundred miles. 
On the way they shot a sage hen, a prairie dog, 
and two pigeons, all of which were quickly de- 

56 A California Pioneer 

voured, and thus they poked along, witli a cane 
in each hand, until they reached the junction 
where they obtained food from the traders lo- 
cated there. 

Having disposed of Marsh's difficulties, I now 
return to my own. 

By the time we reached the Humboldt Eiver 
cholera had broken out among the emigrants ; 
and here our real trouble commenced, for my 
brother Alvin was stricken. 

We laid over here for a day, in order to rest 
our horses and to do what we could for Alvin. 
Our partners, Mellon and Vetter, had thus far 
kept the original compact made by us in Wis- 
consin; but in the face of the present difficulties 
the "yellow streak" in both of their composi- 
tions manifested itself, for they declared that 
they were going to take their horses and their 
half of our supplies and go on, magnanimously 
offering to leave the tent for the use of my sick 

"Yes," said I, "but how about our agree- 
ment to stick together, sick or well, until we 
reached California?" 

They replied by saying that if they remained 
there five or ten days the provisions might give 
out, and again declared that they were going 
to pack their horses and leave. 

"That," I said, "is exactly what I would do 
if I were like you ; but if you were in my place 
and I in yours, I would continue right along 

Westward 57 

taking my turn at camp duty and caring for 
the sick. ' ' Then I added : * * When you were in 
Wisconsin and under the restraint of law and 
the influence of friends and society, you were 
good fellows, but here, where there is neither 
law nor society, your natural cussedness comes 
to the surface, and you care for no one but your- 

I further reminded them that I had swum 
every river to lead the horses, that I had re- 
mained behind to dig a grave and bury the dead, 
and had been compelled to travel in the night to 
overtake the train, while they had lain comfort- 
ably in their tent, and added: 

"And now, with my brother at the point of 
death, you propose to break up the team and 
desert us four hundred miles from our journey's 

The doctor, who had been listening to our 
conversation, here interjected : 

"Mr. Mellon, you certainly will not break up 
the team and leave the Abbott boys in this fix. 
I have heard enough of this rot. ' ' 

But Mellon replied : 

"Well, I am going." 

Mellon and Vetter proposed to make a pair 
of pack saddles and, as there was no other ma- 
terial at hand,. I suggested that they use for 
this purpose one of the front wheels of our 
wagon and a piece of the wagon box, which sug- 

58 A California Pioneer 

gestion was met by several of the men stand- 
ing by with tbe remark: 

"Carr, I would not give tbe scamps any- 
thing " But the two deserters took the wheel, 
and after I had cut the wagon bed in halves they 
used some of the discarded boards, completed 
their pack saddles and got away at sundown, 
evidently not desiring to camp amid such un- 
congenial surroundings. I never saw nor heard 
of either of these worthies again. 

Of course I could not expect the other six 
men of our party to delay here on account of 
Alvin's sickness,— for they were under no ob- 
ligation to do so, not having been parties to the 
original agreement to "stick together, sick or 
well,"— and the doctor suggested that I con- 
struct a cart out of the hind wheels of the 
Wagon, so that Alvin could be earned, and we 
could go along with them. The doctor added 
that Alvin would be more liable to recover under 
his care than lying here in a hot tent. I adopted 
this suggestion, and from another company 
camped nearby I borrowed a saw, which was not 
only dull but was of the cross-cut variety, and 
with this cross-cut saw I ripped the dry, hard 
wagon-tongue into strips, which I roughly fash- 
ioned into shafts, in order that I might work 
one of our horses at a time. _ 

As it was necessary for me to give Alvin 
mediciae every hour, and as I had no right to 
delay the departure of the rest of our company, 

Westward 59 

I did not go to bed that night, but worked upon 
this cart and finished it at alaout three o'clock 
in the morning. I had now been two days and 
nearly two nights without sleep, and, to use 
a present-day expression, I was "all in." So, 
after giving Alvin his medicine, I sat down to 
rest, and fell asleep. 

Because of my being at work that night, it 
was not thought necessary to have a guard out 
to watch for prowlers who might be about for 
the purpose of stealing food; but while I slept 
some thieving emigrants slipped into our camp 
and made away with all of our principal articles 
of food. Upon taking an account of our larder, 
we found that by limiting each man to one 
spoonful of flour, on« spoonful of meal, and 
half an ounce of dried beef made into gruel, to 
each meal, we had sufficient food left to last 
until we should reach the forty-five mile desert 
between the Sink of the Humboldt and the Car- 
son River. 

The doctor now remarked that, as there was 
now nothing to eat, "we could all mess to- 
gether, ' ' and he regularly measured out to each 
man his pint cup of gruel, — and was careful 
that each got his share. Many times I have 
been asked how it happened that such a scarcity 
of food existed among the emigrants in 1850. 
The explanation is simple, and it is this : 

In 1849, because of the rush to the gold mines 
from all the countries of the world, every train 

60 A California Pioneer 

crossing tlie plains took one year's supply of 
provisions, anticipating a scarcity in California, 
by reason of the enormous influx of people. In 
1850, however, nearly one-half of the trains did 
not take enough food, thinking they could ob- 
tain it on the way, and no train took too much, — 
and the saying that "hungry men will steal" 
was just as true then as it is now. 

We were now ready for the road. Alvin was 
lifted into the cart, Pomp was put between the 
shafts, and our other horse Bob was hitched 
behind. Pomp did not require a driver and 
readily followed behind one of the wagons, 
while, in order to save horse-flesh, I walked. 
Before we reached the Humboldt River our road 
led us through what was then known as Decep- 
tion Valley, and we were now traveling nearly 
south along the Humboldt River and toward 
the desert. 

After we had been three or four days on the 
way we made camp in a little ox-bow bend of the 
river, the open end of the bow, where it joined 
the mainland, being not more than fifty or sixty 
yards wide. By this time Alvin was con- 
valescent, and the doctor said he would "make 
a live of it" providing "he did not eat too 
much." Considering the condition of our com- 
missary, Alvin was now out of all danger, for 
the chance or probability of his eating too much 
was what might be called highly contingent. 

Just before sunset a small company came 

Westward 61 

along and asked the privilege of camping with 
us for the night, as we were now in the country 
of the Piute Indians. These lousy vagabonds 
were not regarded as warriors or fighters, hut 
they were generally conceded to be the worst 
thieves between the Missouri and the Sacra- 
mento. Their method of stealing stock was to 
send a few "braves" to crawl among the herd 
while grazing at night and cut the hobbles, 
whereupon the other members of the gang 
would dash toward the horses, or cattle, and 
with unearthly yells stampede the stock and 
run it off into the mountains. We were, there- 
fore, compelled to put out a guard to protect 
our stock, and on this particular night I was 
on guard duty with a young man from the other 

We were stationed upon opposite sides of this 
narrow neck of land to which I have referred, 
near the river, and about midnight I heard my 
companion fire. It was so dark that as I hailed 
him and went towards him I could just discern 
the outline of his body. He told me he had 
shot an Indian, but that the reprobate (that 
was not the word he used) had got in the first 

"Just look at that arrow," said he. 

I found that an arrow had passed through 
his coat collar in front, then through his over- 
shirt above the shoulder, and then through the 
coat collar at the back, — and there it hung. He 

62 A California Pioneer 

said the Indian was cutting the hobbles from 
the horses when he fired, and that the Indian 
had fallen, but had picked himself up and ran. 
Upon the coming of daylight we followed a 
trail of blood for about sixty yards and there 
found "our Indian," who, in the words of Mark 
Twain, was * * the deadest man that ever lived. ' ' 



The Sink of the Humboldt, as the name im- 
plies, is a point out in the desert where the 
waters of the Humboldt Eiver disappear in the 

From the southern extremity of the Sink, 
and extending for a distance of approximately 
thirty miles, the surface or floor of the desert 
was, comparatively speaking, quite level, and 
it was, practically speaking, as hard and smooth 
as a concrete pavement, caused in all prob- 
ability by some chemical substance contained 
in the receding waters. The last fifteen miles, 
however, was an almost unbroken stretch of 
billows of sand, in which a horse's hoof would 
sink and be covered at every step, and at a 
point about five miles out in this sand, and 
distant about ten miles from the Carson Eiver, 
was a spot then known as Destruction Flat. 

Before reaching the Sink we had rested a 
day at a place called "The Meadows"; and as 
there was, of course, no horse feed between this 
point and the Carson Eiver, we cut and tied 
into bundles some of the tall grass that grew 


64 A California Pioneer 

here luxuriantly, and carried this with us for 
use in crossing the desert. 

We left the southern end of the Sink, and 
started out upon the desert at about eleven 
o'clock in the morning, expecting that by- 
traveling into the night we would be able to 
reach the Carson Eiver before the heat of the 
following day; but we here made a serious 
blunder, because we should have started much 
earlier, for we were forced to stop and rest 
after we had traveled about twenty-eight 
miles, — ^being yet two miles distant from the 
stretch of soft shifting sand. By sunup the 
next morning we were again on our way; but 
we had not traveled more than two or three 
miles into this soft sand when our teams began 
to give out and lie down. 

Numerous buzzards had been sailing along 
behind us, watching and waiting for man or 
beast to fall. Three of the four horses be- 
longing to Bemis, Redington, and the Baker 
boys were the first to drop. They lay down in 
their harness, and being unable to get up, were 
quickly shot, in order to end their misery. A 
few tin dishes were then tied upon the back 
of the remaining horse; whereupon each of 
these men put on his best clothes, and, with one 
pair of blankets each, they were ready to pur- 
sue their journey. Iledington alone retained 
his pistol. 

A little farther on five of the six horses be- 

The Desert 65 

longing to the other outfit went the same way. 
The two horses belonging to Alvin and me were 
still aJive and able to move, which was due no 
doubt to the fact that they had worked only on 
alternate days from the time we reached the 
Humboldt River. 

We plodded slowly along until about eleven 
o'clock in the forenoon, at which time we 
reached Destruction Flat, which, as I have here- 
tofore stated, was five miles out in the sand, 
and distant ten miles from the Carson River. 

Destruction Flat was well named, for I here 
observed more misery and desolation and hope- 
lessness than I had ever seen before, or than I 
have seen since. 

The Flat comprised about two acres. It was 
practically destitute of sand, but had been 
tramped until it was covered with a thick layer 
of dust. Upon every hand there were evidences 
that many emigrants had stopped to rest, and 
their teams had lain down never to get up. 
There were perhaps forty or fifty canvas-cov- 
ered wagons and probably one hundred head of 
horses and oxen, counting both dead and alive. 
In these wagons were trunks and clothing, mat- 
tresses, mining tools (everything but food), 
which had been hastily abandoned by the own- 
ers in their anxiety to reach the Carson River 
and water, and to leave behind them this hell 
hole of the desert. 

Here I saw a number of ox teams of five or 

66 A California Pioneer 

six pairs eacli, lying down in their yokes,— 
some of them dead, some of them with their 
swollen tongues lying extended out into the 
dust, and moaning and groaning as pitifully as 
one of our own kind, — unable to avoid the 
almost perpendicular rays of the sun now beat- 
ing upon this spot with a fury almost inde- 
scribable. The owners of these animals had 
not delayed their flight long enough to end the 
misery of the poor dumb brutes. There were 
loose horses and oxen wandering listlessly 
about, and in the first part of the day this loose 
stock, in an endeavor to escape the fierce heat 
that beat down as if coming from a furnace, 
would huddle together on the western side of 
the high-topped wagons, and there lie down; 
and when the sun passed its meridian height 
those yet alive and able to move would shift 
their position and pile up on the eastern sides 
of the wagons, and about some of the wagons 
the accumulation of dead horses and oxen 
reached as high as the tops of the wheels. In 
two instances I observed wagons at each end of 
which the accumulation of dead animals ren- 
dered it possible for oxen to clinch over them, 
and at each end of both of these wagons an ox, 
in order to get the slight shade afforded by the 
wagon covering, had climbed up and had got the 
front half of his body under the canvas, — and 
there had died. 

The stench from these dead animals was 

The Desert 67 

stifling, and the groans of the dying, distress- 
ing; a myriad of buzzards hovered around, 
alighting now and then to pick out the eyes of 
the prostrate, whether dead or alive, while the 
terrific waves of heat, as from a furnace, drifted 
over the Flat. 

Redington and I went among the dying ani- 
mals and gave each one a bullet in the brain, as 
long as our bullets lasted, and then threw our 
pistols away. Our canteens, which we had filled 
at the Sink, were, of course, long since empty, 
and as we were entirely without food of any 
kind, Redington and I poked around in the 
dust, finding by this means a few bacon rinds, 
which the doctor divided among the members 
of our company, allowing each a piece about 
two inches long, which, by his orders, were 

By way of diversion Eedingtoii and I then 
set fire to two or three of the abandoned wag- 
ons, whereupon the doctor said: 

"If you can do mischief, you can go to the 
river for water. You are the two strongest 
men in the company, and there are two men 
here who, unless they get water, will never live 
to reach the Carson River. You go on ahead, 
and as soon as it gets cool this evening we will, 
if possible, start along and meet you." 

Redington was about six feet two inches tall, 
raw-boned and muscular, and by far the best- 
preserved man in our company. Therefore, f ol- 

68 'A California Pioneer 

lowing this suggestion of the doctor's, he and 
I rummaged around in one of those abandoned 
wagons, and there found a ten-gallon can, with 
a cover and a ligM tent pole. With these we 
set out for water, the doctor warning us not 
to speak to each other until we reached the 
river, as conversation would aggravate our 


A few yards soutli of the Flat there was a 
roll of sand some fifteen or twenty feet high, 
and here Redington and I stopped to take a last 
look at Destruction Flat. There was our little 
company, lying in the shade of a wagon at the 
farther end of the Flat, and their woe-begone 
appearance, together with the surroundings that 
I have heretofore mentioned, made the most 
distressing scene man ever looked upon. After 
briefly contemplating this picture, Redington 
and I turned away in silence toward the river, 
our shoes at each step sinking to their tops 
in the sand. 

At a point about four miles on our way we 
came upon a stake by the side of a road, with a 
finger-board nailed to it, pointing eastwardly, 
along a dim trail, and bearing the single word 

Redington, following the injunction of the 
doctor not to converse, wrote upon his memo- 
randum book: 

"Let's take the trail." 

In answer I wrote: "Let's keep the road. 

The Desert 69 

If we take the trail, get lost and perish, some 
of our party will also die for want of water." 

Whereupon Redington wrote in answer: 

"The trail crosses that high ridge, and if we 
see no signs of water when we get there, we 
will strike the road one mile farther south, 
which will still be in sight." 

We took this trail, and reaching the ridge, 
found below it a depression about two acres in 
extent and about one hundred feet below us, 
which was filled with water as black as ink, 
caused probably by some mineral substance 
in its composition. At the north end of this 
lake there was a perpendicular cliff of sand 
rock, and the trail zigzagged down a very steep 
bank. We stopped and rested here, of course 
knowing that if we drank any of that water we 
would probably remain there. As we were get- 
ting up to start again Redington shouted: 

"I can see clear water!" 

I patted my mouth to indicate "keep your's 
shut"; but he shouted: 

"Never mind! Do you see that streak of 
white from the sand cliff running out into the 
lake? That is clear water sure." 

We quickly made our way down the trail and 
here observed many footprints, both going and 
coming, along the narrow beach at the edge of 
the lake, and at the foot of this sand cliff was 
a stream of clear, cool water that would fill a 
four inch pipe. We first dipped water with the 

70 A California Pioneer 

can cover and poured it on our wrists, and it 
was like electricity, for we could feel it to our 
very toes ; then we washed our hands and faces; 
rinsed out our mouths, and swallowed a few 
drops, after which we washed out the caii, put 
about a quart of water in it, and set it out in the 
sun to take the chill off. From this we took a 
few drops at a time until we were able to drink 
half a teacup full, which took us about an hour. 
We then filled the can and ran the tent pole 
through the handle and started back for the 
Flat. Redington, being taller than I, followed 
behind, with the pole on his shoulder, while I 
went ahead with the other end in my hand, 
the weight we were carrying about ninety 
pounds; but the forty-five pounds on my end 
was the heaviest forty-five pounds I ever 
tackled. It is not to be wondered at that this 
load seemed heavy when it is considered that 
we had been sixteen days on gruel, had been 
famished for thirty-six hours, and were a hun- 
dred feet below the general level of the coun- 
try, with not a breath of air stirring, and en- 
veloped in a fierce desert heat. On reaching 
the top of the ridge we found a slight breeze 
blowing, and here we sat down to rest, while 
Redington turned a liberal drink into the can 
cover and proposed: 

"Here's to the boys on Destruction Flat!" 
This I followed with a less copious draught 
and the proposal: 

The Desert 71 

"Here's to your wife and my best girl back 
in Wisconsin ! ' ' 

We were now ready to start back for the Flat, 
which was only five miles through the sand, in- 
stead of ten miles as would have been the dis- 
tance had we gone direct to the Carson Eiver 
for water. I hasten to get away from this in- 
fernal desert and those sad memories of the 
past, and will now only observe that after many 
rests we reached the Flat about half an hour 
before sundown, and the surprise and joy on 
the faces of our little company will remain with 
me as long as I remain an inhabitant of this 
terrestrial sphere. 

We were assailed with questions: "Where 
did you get it?" "Have you been to the river 
and back in this time?" To which Kedington 
repKed : 

"I'll tell you to-morrow." 

The doctor now treated the other men as we 
had treated ourselves at the spring, and after 
filling our canteens we had about one and a 
half gallons left for each of the horses, which 
saved their lives. Shortly after dark we were 
again ready to start on our journey. Alvin, 
who was not yet completely restored to health, 
was placed on Bob, and we soon left behind us 
Destruction Flat with its horrors, and were on 
our way to the Carson. 



About every mile we stopped and rested our- 
selves by lying flat on the sand, and the next 
momiag, just as old Sol was "firing the tops 
of the eastern pines," we reached the river, — 
nearly forty-eight hours after we had eaten our 
last gruel. 

We here found the little hamlet or burg of 
Ragtown, — so named no doubt by reason of the 
fact that it was built entirely of abandoned 
tents and wagon covers. There were traders 
here who sold supplies, or exchanged them for 
jewelry or worn-out stock that could go no 
farther, — stealing quite as much as they re- 
ceived in exchange. Supplies were charged for 
at the rate of one dollar a pound, and the trad- 
ers allowed about one-fourth of the value on 
any jewelry taken in exchange. 

We had an understanding that any food pro- 
cured by any member of our company should 
be considered "joint stock," and that when we 
reached the mines he should be reimbursed to 
the extent of the value of the property ex- 
changed; but this compact was lost sight of, 


At the Carson River 73 

for upon reaching the mines each man went his 
own way, not to meet again except upon the 
other side of the Great Divide. 

Our horse Bob was now about ready to 
"throw up the sponge," so we traded him for 
sixteen pounds of chipped beef and sea biscuits, 
and we then all sat down to the most enjoyable 
feast in all the tides of time, for we were as. 
lank as greyhounds, as hungry as wolves, and, 
in addition, possessed the dilating powers of an 

There was not a spear of grass here, for the 
narrow strip of fertile land along the river had 
been tramped like a corral, so we moved on up 
the river about six miles, where we found an 
abundance of feed for our three remaining 
horses. Other members of our company had 
made some purchases, so we were now fairly 
well off for a few days; but the doctor put 
us on a regular ration, saying we must eat 
lightly or we would get sick, and we coidd not 
afford to have a sick man on our hands. He 
said that at the end of a week we would not 
have to ration out our food because we would 
not then have cmy. 

Along the Carson River, and over the Sierra 
Nevada Mountains to Hangtown (now Placer- 
ville), there were relief stations, about every 
twenty miles, which were financed by charitably 
disposed business men in San Francisco and 
Sacramento. Here were kept flour and com 

74 A California Pioneer 

meal only ; and to a man who was entirely desti- 
tute would be given a pint of flour and a pint 
of corn meal, which, it was calculated, would be 
sufficient to enable him to reach the next sta- 

Upon approaching one of these stations it 
was proposed that all the horses and jewelry in 
our party should be turned over to Alvin in fee 
simple. This would reduce the remaining mem- 
bers of our party to the "destitute condition" 
that was a necessary prerequisite to our each 
getting a pint of flour and meal. Most of the 
men said that they were hungry enough to 
steal, but not hungry enough to beg. Then 
Phillips said to his partner : 

' ' John, you can have my half of our horse. ' ' 

And to my brother I said : 

"Al, old Pomp is yours." 

These "property" transfers reduced Phillips 
and me to a destitute condition, and as we were 
now opposite one of the relief stations on the 
bank of the river, Phillips and I started for it, 
Phillips insisting that I should do all the talk- 

Entering the tent, we noticed a pile of sacked 
flour and meal at the far end, and next to it was 
a box about three feet square which served as 
a counter. I inquired of the man in charge if 
this was a station where they gave flour and 
meal to those who were entirely destitute. He 
replied in a rough manner: 

At the Carson River 75 

"Yes, it is, but have you no money, jewelry, 
or interest in the teams to barter?" 

"No," I replied. "Our teams died on the 
desert, and our sole possessions consist of what 
we have on our backs and a pair of blankets 
each. ' ' 

He reached for the empty flour sack I carried 
and put into it two pint cups of flour and the 
same quantity of meal. This I took, with 
thanks, and turned to leave. 

"Hold on a minute," said he; and from a 
shelf in his box-counter he took out a book, 
ink, and pen, adding : "Your name and former 
place of residence, please. ' ' 

It immediately occurred to me that his ob- 
ject in getting the names of those who had been 
assisted on this last lap of the journey was in 
order that they might be published in the east- 
ern papers. Not desiring this kind of publicity, 
I determined to prevaricate, and replied: 

"My name is John Simmons, of De Kalb 
County, Pennsylvania." 

Turning to Phillips, the agent asked: 

"Your name, sir?" 

Seeing that I had wandered from the truth, 
Phillips concluded to do likewise, and replied: 

' ' My name is Peter Lewis, of the same place. ' ' 

But he drawled this out so long and so 
solemnly that I could not restrain a hearty 
laugh ; whereupon the man threw down his pen 
and shouted: 

76 A Calif ornia Pioneer 

"You fellows are liars!" 

"Yes," I admitted; "we lied like pickpockets 
about our names, but about nothing else; and 
as we bave tbe flour and meal, good-by." 

And with this parting shot we retreated. A 
few mUes farther on we camped, and here had 
another banquet. 

On the following day Phillips's partner 
traded his horse for a supply of grub, and that 
night we reached what was called Mormon Sta- 
tion (now Carson City) , at the east foot of the 
Sierra Nevada Mountains. Here we stopped 
for two days in order to give our last two horses 
a good rest before starting over the mountains. 

Mormon Station was a village of tents, and 
there were five or six traders here ready to ex- 
change grub for jewelry or other property. Be- 
fore leaving Beloit, Alvin had purchased a 
watch, for which he paid twenty dollars, and he 
had kept this in reserve, to dispose of when our 
company got down to "bed-rock" food condi- 
tions. He was now dickering with one of the 
traders, who finally gave him four pounds of 
hard-tack and two pounds of chipped beef in ex- 
change for the timepiece. This hard-driven 
bargain, aside from the fact that no weapons 
were displayed, very much resembled plain, 
common, everyday robbery, and, as I thought, 
merited retaliation. 

This trader's tent was about twenty feet long 
and ten feet wide, and all along the ridgepole 

At the Carson River 77 

relishing sides of bacon were suspended. The 
bed of a wagon, lying upon its side with the 
open or top toward the front of the tent, served 
as a oonnter, and evidently at the same time as 
a place for the storage of provisions ; for it was 
filled with cans of soda crackers, chipped beef, 
and other supplies. 

Alvin and I stood together in front of this 
counter while the dickering was going on, and 
I noticed that the centerboard extending the 
length of this wagon bed had broken loose from 
its fastenings, and one end had dropped down, 
leaving a crack about six inches wide at that 
end, and tapering to a point at the other. I 
gave Al a nudge and pointed at this crack, and, 
in order to get the trader's attention away from 
that particular crack, I entered the tent and 
told him that my partners had watches and 
jewelry they would have to exchange before we 
started over the mountain, but that I first 
wanted to see what he had in the way of goods, 
so I could report to my partners and have them 
come up for a trade. 

While in the tent I did not faU to observe 
that, at the far end, a side of bacon had dropped 
from the ridgepole and lay upon the ground. 

Meantime Al had reached through this crack 
in the wagon bed and had appropriated as much 
hard-tack and chipped beef as he had received in 
exchange for his watch. Upon coming out of 
the tent, I contrived to get near Al again, and 

78 A California Pioneer 

giving him another nudge, told him I was going 
to our camp to get the Baker boys to come and 
buy something. Then I started off. Al quickly 
surmised that I was up to some deviltry, and 
while he entertained the trader I passed around 
the tent, reached under, and appropriated the 
side of bacon. During my long life this is the 
only theft in which I ever engaged, and while 
the act was doubtless legally wrong, I felt at 
the time that it was morally justified; nor have 
I repented it up to this time, for if aU the grub 
that we purchased from him and that we stole 
from him was worth a dollar a pound, he did 
not pay too much for the watch. 

Instead of following the wagon road south 
for several miles, and then through a long 
canyon up the Carson River to Hangtown, we 
took a bridle trail across the mountains to 
Georgetown, said to be fifty miles shorter. "We 
had been informed that pack trains had made 
this trip in five days, but we soon learned that 
"racks of bones" like our horses, could not 
make the trip in double the time a fat Cali- 
fornia horse could. 

After making a few trades with the Mormon 
traders at this place we had a larder that al- 
lowed one ounce of dried beef, one heaping 
tablespoonful of flour, and one of meal, for each 
member of our company three times a day for 
five days, calculating that we could make the 
journey in six or seven days at the outside ; and. 

At the Carson River 79 

too, it was possible that we might kill a deer, 
as Bemis had retained his rifle, — the only fire- 
arm we now had. 

On the night of the fifth day we divided our 
rations so as to have half a ration on the sixth 
morning from Carson, and of course on that 
morning the last of our grub vanished. 

On this day we met two packers, with a train 
of ten mules loaded with food of all kinds. 
They said they had sufiicient food to take eighty 
men into the mines from Carson, whither they 
were bound, and each of these men was expected 
to work twenty days in the mines to pay for 
this assistance. They said they did not care 
to bother with us, as there were not enough of 
us; besides, we were so near through that it 
would not pay them to deal with us. Inci- 
dentally, they lied about the distance to the 
nearest trading post at the mines, saying that it 
was only ten miles, while it must have been 

The doctor then suggested to them that if we 
were that near the mines, and they would let us 
have half a pound of soda crackers each, we 
could "make it," and the first time they met 
any member of our company he would pay them 
two dollars a pound for it all. They seemed to 
hesitate, whereupon Job Strange stopped the 
mules, and Bemis, — who had not shaved since 
he left Wisconsin, whose beard now stood out 
nearly straight from his face, whose hair hung 

80 A California Pioneer 

down to where Ms coat collar should have been, 
and whose head as a consequence appeared to be 
as large as a three-gallon bucket, — stood lean- 
ing against a pine tree close to the trail, his 
eyes ablaze with wrath and hunger, and with 
"Old Betsy," as he fondly called his rifle, rest- 
ing across the hollow of his left arm, the breech 
in his right hand, finger on the trigger, said in 
a very slow and solemn voice : 

"Gentlemen, you had better take the doctor's 
proposition and weigh out half a pound to each 
of us." 

"While he made no direct threat, his look and 
tone spoke volumes, and the crackers were 
speedily weighed out, whereupon each man 
stowed his half pound away in his pockets. Ben 
Baker now confessed that before reaching the 
desert he had stolen a little tea from the outfit 
for use in case of sickness, and he now proposed 
that we go on to the next water, which these 
drivers had told us about, and have tea and 
crackers for lunch. We did have tea for lunch, 
but there was not in the whole crowd a piece of 
cracker as large as my thumb nail, for with the 
aid of a little warm water from our canteens 
all of the crackers had been eaten as we trudged 

After "tea," with a cane in each hand, we 
plodded along far enough to know that the pack- 
ers had lied about the distance to the mines. As 
a matter of fact, we had taken a wrong trail 

At the Carson River 81 

at the fork, and finally came out on the middle 
fork of the American River, at a point about 
twenty-five miles north of Georgetown. 

The day following our feast of crackers we 
came upon a clump of low chokecherry bushes, 
fairly well loaded with fruit. These cherries 
held a large stone which was surrounded by 
a thin, bitter pulp. The doctor warned us not 
to eat them, but said we might crack the stones, 
which contained a little nutriment. However, 
I did not stop at this suggestion, and it is now 
quite clear to me that I ate too many cherries. 
The trail here followed along the north side of 
a very steep mountain, and I began to get dizzy. 
I had started out in the lead, but one after the 
other of our company passed me, until I finally 
brought up in the rear, when, in stepping over a 
pine tree that had fallen across the trail, I 
stumbled and fell in the red dust ; and I firmly 
believe that I was asleep before my head 
touched the ground. 

I have observed that whatever absorbs one's 
attention in his waking hours is very apt to be 
present in his dreams, and as our whole com- 
pany had simply talked "eat" for several 
weeks, it was quite natural that, as I lay here 
dreaming, the subject of eating should not be 
far away. 

I was sitting down to the finest banquet ever 
placed before a hungry man. The tables of 
the rich, set with beautiful silver and sweet- 
scented flowers, might be more attractive to 

82 A California Pioneer 

the fastidious, but as a display of the sub- 
stantials, — for "larruping good truck" in abun- 
dance, — this spread beat them all. Here were 
big tin pans filled with roasted chickens, a roast 
goose almost floating around in his rich gravy, 
a roast pig with an apple in his mouth, and a 
pudding in his belly, apple pies and pumpkin 
pies, and mince pies, and white cake, and yellow 
cake, and jelly cake and cranberry sauce, and 
doughnuts galore. But of this bountiful 
spread, it was the last dish that attracted my 

The table, which was about sixteen feet long 
and four feet wide, was surrounded by gentle- 
men who were all strangers to me. My place 
was about a foot from one end of the table, 
and there was a stack of these doughnuts in 
front of me, each one of which reached clear 
across the table. Each strand of these dough- 
nuts was three inches in diameter, so that, when 
doubled, the doughnut was six inches through 
and four feet long. I broke off a great hunk 
from one of these and was industriously boring 
my way through and around it when there came 
a tap on my ribs (now quite close to the sur- 
face), and I woke up to behold Alvin, who in- 
quired : 

"What the are you lying here for?" 

I told him of my banquet and that he should 
not have disturbed me until I had finished that 

At the Carson River 83 

We soon overtook the other men, who had 
waited for us; and a little farther on, it being 
now sundown, we scraped together the leaves 
under the spreading branches of a large oak 
tree, and all laid down in a row for the night. 

As there was now nothing to eat, and conse- 
quently no necessity for devoting time to the 
fool job of cooking or washing dishes, we could 
put in our whole time romancing and telling 
stories, in an endeavor to keep up our courage. 

The doctor, who was generally of a very jolly 
disposition, here had a heavy dose of the blues, 
and predicted serious trouble if we did not soon 
get relief from our present condition. To this 
observation Bemis replied: 

"Nothing of the kind. Doc. We have got 
along fine so far, and in two days we will be in 
the mines, and there have a banquet which wUl 
beat Carr Abbott's all holler." Continuing, he 
said to me: "Carr, I will draw straws with 
you to determine whose horse shall be killed for 
food when we reach water. ' ' 

I agreed to this, with the proviso that if my 
horse must be slaughtered, Alvin, who was not 
yet able to travel on foot, should be permitted 
to ride Bemis' horse. The doctor prepared 
the straws and I drew the short one. Old 
Pomp must die. Poor old Pomp, who had 
swum every stream that had to be swum since 
we left Wisconsin, with me on his back or hang- 
ing on his tail ; who had hauled my sick brother 

84 A California Pioneer 

in a cart on alternate days down the Humboldt 
Eiver and to Destruction Flat, and had car- 
ried him on his back since we first reached the 
Carson, must now die, that we might suck the 
marrow from his fleshless bones, and boil for 
food the hide that covered them ! This gave me 
the blues, and that night I could not sleep. 

Pomp and the other horse were staked out 
together, munching the twigs of a clump of 
lilac bushes not far from where I lay; and as 
the other nine men were fast asleep I deter- 
mined to go out and see old Pomp and "talk" 
to him. But when I was within ten or fifteen 
yards of where he stood, he turned his head in 
my direction and whinnied. I could go no far- 
ther, but returned to my bed of leaves and lay 
down. And, although I was then twenty-two 
years of age, I am not ashamed to say that I 
wept myself to sleep. 

Not having to eat, cook, or W9,sh dishes, we 
were on our way the next morning as soon as 
it was fairly light. Our trail was now nearing 
the bottom of the canyon, and here Job Strange, 
who was in the lead, caught sight of a deer 
across the canyon, gazing at us apparently in 
great astonishment. Strange stopped and 
pointed in the direction of the deer, still not say- 
ing a word, while Bemis got in range of a big 
pine tree and, amid the breathless excitement 
of all, worked his way quietly down to it, quickly 
stepped to one side, and fired. The deer 

At the Carson Biver 85 

dropped to his knees, then sprang to his feet 
and bounded up the steep mountain side three 
or four times, while the whole crowd yelled to 
Bemis : 

"We'll kill your horse instead of Abbott's, if 
you do not get that deer!" 

The wound was fatal, for the deer now turned 
a complete somersault and rolled down to the 
bottom of the canyon. And we were all so 
weak that it took our combined strength to get 
it up to the trail. We tied the deer on Berois ' 
horse and at about eleven o'clock in the day, 
at the junction of this canyon with afiother one, 
we came upon a small stream. Here we camped 
until noon ; and by the next day, it is needless 
perhaps to say, there was nothing left of that 
deer but the horns, the hide, and the bones. 
By sundown we reached a broad trail used by 
the packers in carrying supplies to the middle 
fork of the American Eiver, from which a 
branch trail led down to Volcano Bar, on the 
river, while another branch led to Missouri 
Canyon, a mile and a half to the south. 



At tlie junction of these trails there was 
a trading post conducted by a man called 
"Longy," and familiarly referred to as "old 
Longy." As he was very tall, the name 
"Longy" was appropriate enough; but not so 
the word "old," for he was not an old man; in 
fact, there was not then a gray hair in that 
country, as no one but the young and strong 
went to California in those days. 

We were now at the mines and must part with 
Old Pomp, and Alvin and I had quite a discus- 
sion as to what disposition should be made of 
the faithful old brute. Alvin proposed to turn 
him out and let him pick for himself and thus 
spend his remaining years in ease ; but I knew 
that some packer would take him up and put 
him at hard work, and I therefore advised shoot- 
ing him and thereby saving him from further 
toil ; for the idea of having him used for pack- 
ing into the mines, under the lash, was quite 
out of the question with both of us. Al ve- 
hemently declared that he would not be a party 
to the murder of Old Pomp, and I declared that 


At the Mines 87 

I would under no circumstances pull the trig- 
ger. We, however, found a man who promised 
to take good care of our old companion, for 
whom he paid us twenty-five dollars ; and with 
this sum we immediately purchased a pick, a 
shovel, and a pan. 

Eight of our company started for Volcano 
Bar and the river, while Al and I determined 
to try our luck, on our own account, in Missouri 
Canyon. I likewise determined that by some 
means I was going to get something to eat, so 
we went to see Old Longy, only a few yards 

His was a typical California building of the 
time, and consisted of pine poles set in the 
ground, with canvas sides and top. I told him 
we were going to Missouri Canyon to try our 
luck, and asked him if he would trust us for a 
few days' grub. 

' ' Trust you ? " he repeated. " Yes ; of course 
I will trust you. One condition only will I im- 
pose, — that you work; for I know that if you 
work you will get the dust, and even if you 
should not strike it in six months, if you work, 
you can eat; but if you don't work you can 

He thereupon weighed out a good and sub- 
stantial ration for a week, then gave us mining 
tools, together with tools with which to make a 
rocker, and a piece of perforated iron to use 

88 A Calif orma Pioneer 

in making the rocker. Then, after looking us 
over, he continued: 

"Look here, young fellows ; you are dirty and 
ragged ; toes sticking out of your boots [we had 
had no change of clothes since leaving Destruc- 
tion Flat] ; go in there" — pointing to a pile of 
clothing — "and pick out a suit of miner's 
clothes, two suits of underclothes, and two pairs 
of blankets each. Then take the trail to the 
left of the house, and in about a hundred yards 
you will find a spring, and just below that a 
big hole for bathing. Then bum those rags." 

We thought the man must be crazy, but never- 
theless did as he directed, — and found we had 
run up a bill amounting to two hundred and 
twenty-five dollars. 

"Old Longy" was long since gathered to his 
fathers, and I doubt not that in the making up 
of his account the Recording Angel gave him 
a full meed of credit for the generous assistance 
he then rendered to two needy boys, — assist- 
ance that, in our destitute condition, fell upon 
us like a benediction. 

The next morning our outfit was loaded on a 
mule, and we followed to Missouri Canyon and 
stopped at the upper end of where the ground 
had been worked. Here, with pine boughs we 
built a cabin about eight feet wide and ten feet 
long, in which we made a floor of pine needles. 
After our first meal here we went downstream 
to observe the methods of the miners, — ^how 

At the Mmes 89 

they found gold, how they saved it, and how 
deep it was to bedrock, — and also to learn how 
much ground we had a right to claim; after 
which we returned and measured off a hundred- 
foot claim ajid posted notices at each end, which 
constituted as good a title as a United States 
Patent, so long as the claim was worked. Al- 
vin found a hollow tree, and, with a part of this, 
put in the rest of the week making an old-fash- 
ioned rocker, this being of course before sluice 
boxes came into use. Meantime I had dug a 
ditch the entire length of our claim and had 
turned the stream into it. 

It was about four feet to bedrock but not a 
"color" of gold showed up, and I was both dis- 
appointed and discouraged, because the miners 
below us were finding gold on the bedrock and 
in the gravel next to it. I worked until Satur- 
day afternoon, making an excavation about five 
feet wide and twenty feet long, and was still at 
work when a miner from downstream came 
along. He complimented me on the amount of 
ground I had removed during the week, but 
when I told him I had not found a speck of gold 
he examined my work more closely and then 

"Don't you see the bedrock pitches upstream? 
and where the bedrock pitches upstream, or is 
level, there is no gold, because the sand hardens 
and makes a smooth surface and the gold passes 
over it. But it stops and settles in the gravel 

90 A Calif omia Pioneer 

where it is rougli. Go upstream ten or fifteen 
feet and dig a shaft, and if yon find the same 
conditions as you have here, go up a little far- 
ther; and when the bedrock raises you will find 

gold." ^,, 

I thanked him and he passed on to Old 


I now made a narrow out in the center of my 
pit,_just wide enough to work in,— and just at 
sundown came to a raise in the bedrock, where I 
picked up a sliver of gold worth about twenty- 
five cents. This ended our first week in the 

mines. . 

Our luck had been so poor that we were afraid 
Longy would go back on his agreement to fur- 
nish supplies, but there was nothing to do but 
to go and find out. So on Sunday we went to 
the trading post, and I showed Longy the re- 
sult of our week's work. He laughed and said : 

"The agreement is good, for my packer says 
you have worked like a dog digging out a wood- 
chuck." And he immediately weighed out an- 
other week's supplies. 

During the following week Alvin ran the 
rocker and I did the digging. We were now 
"old miners" and were taking out the dust; 
and on the following Sunday we paid our en- 
tire debt to Longy, paid for two weeks' more 
supplies, were well supplied with clothes, blank- 
ets, and mining tools and had ten ounces of 
dust,— worth $160.00,— left. 

At the Mmes 91 

At tlie end of three more weeks our claim was 
worked out and the canyon above had all been 
taken up by what we called "tenderfeet," who 
came to us " old miners ' ' for information. Our 
rocker was now rough and full of cracks, into 
which fine gold had worked; so we burned it, 
and from the ashes reclaimed three quarters 
of an ounce of dust. 

From here we went to Volcano Bar, where we 
found four of our old partners of the plains, — 
Bennett, Casey, Baker and Bemis, — ^who were 
now in a company with a Dr. Taylor. The 
scurvy, which was so prevalent in all the min- 
ing country, had not attacked any man of this 
company, because Dr. Taylor had kept them all 
liberally doped with a concoction made of vine- 
gar and sliced raw potatoes and raw onions. 
They desired to have Alvin and myself join 
their company, as they had heard glowing ac- 
counts of gold discoveries in the Mud Springs 
Country, about six miles from Hangtown, and 
they wanted some one to go there in behalf of 
the company and investigate the situation. 

We joined them, and two days later I started 
on this trip of sixty miles over a rough coun- 
try. I stopped at the different mines on the 
way and studied the earth formations and the 
manner of working, reaching my destination at 
the end of three days. 

Mud Spring at that time had a population of 

92 A California Pioneer 

about two hundred, and boasted one hotel, three 
stores and the usual number of saloons. 

The next day I started out to locate a camping 
place, and at length selected one at a point 
about a mile west of the town, near a sprmg 
of water. There was a roadside "Dive" here, 
at which the proprietor peddled squirrel 
whiskey, and at the same time stole gold dust 
by means of false weights; but he did not re- 
main long, for there was a well-defined rumor 
that he was to be "lynched," and he quickly 
left the country. 

I made a brush tent, bought some supphes 
and tools, and began prospecting the gulches m 
the vicinity, in many instances carrying the 
dirt and gravel two miles to the spring to wash 
and test it. At the end of about ten days I lo- 
cated a claim that promised to pay ten or twelve 
dollars a day, providing there was sufficient 
rainfall to run a rocker. 

There was, of course, no United States Mail 
Service into the mines, though there were pri- 
vate mail routes, upon which a charge of five 
dollars was made for carrying a letter to Sacra- 
mento, and the same charge for bringing one 
back. This was a monthly service, and was 
carried on by means of mules. One man would 
select for the field of his operations a section 
of the mining country embracing a number of 
mines, and he would go to these various mines 
and take up the mail for Sacramento, distribut- 

At the Mmes 93 

ing the returning mail in the same manner. 
The service was not altogether satisfactory, but 
was far better than none at all. 

The main item that entered into the cost of 
supplies in the mines was that of freight, and, 
as a result, potatoes, tea, crackers, bacon, beans, 
flour, meal, soap, salt, sugar, and all kinds of 
provisions sold at exactly the same price, — one 
dollar a pound. Indeed, the dollar was the unit 
of value in everything except the purchase of 
drinks at the bar, which were quoted at fifty 
cents each. 

Four dollars a day was the estimated cost 
of a man's keep, which was not a high estimate, 
when the amount of grub the ordinary miner 
disposes of in twenty-four hours is considered. 

There was, of course, no coin whatever in 
the mines at that time, gold dust being the sole 
medium of exchange and payment. Every 
trading post, saloon, or other place of business 
had scales upon the counter into which the pur- 
chaser's dust was placed, and there was a wide 
difference in the values of the dust from the 
various diggings, — such value varying from 
eight to sixteen dollars an ounce. These trad- 
ers became so familiar with the various quali- 
ties of dust that, upon weighing it out, they 
could tell with unerring accuracy whether it 
came from Lousy Bar, Yankee Slide, Volcano 
Bar, or Jackass Gulch. 

It was now about time for our company to ar- 

94 A California Pioneer 

rive, so I set about building a bouse fourteen 
feet wide and sixteen feet long. From a pine 
tbicket nearby I cut tbe logs, wbich were from 
twelve to fifteen incbes in diameter, rolled tbem 
to tbe place wbere tbe bouse was to be built, and 
by means of skids got tbem set up. I tben 
moved my bed into one corner and began to fill 
up tbe cracks. A scorcbing fever bere seized 
me and abruptly stopped my work. I managed 
to reacb tbe trail leading from Mud Springs to 
Hangtown, and tbere lay down until a mule 
train came by beaded for Hangtown. By tbis 
means I sent word to Mud Springs for a doc- 
tor, wbo came in about an bour. He was a 
young man, and after looking at tbe cracks be- 
tween tbe logs and examining tbe open spaces 
cut out for tbe door and windows, be looked at 
tbe blue sky overbead and remarked: 

"Well, young man, if tbere is anything in 
the fresb air treatment, you ougbt to get along 
without a doctor. ' ' 

He then asked what was tbe matter with me, 
and I told him that I didn't know, and that was 
why I had sent for him. He then examined me 
and pronounced it a case of mountain fever, 
gave me some medicine, and then brought some 
cold water from the spring. He told me I 
should be in town, but there was no spare room, 
and a tent would be too hot in the daytime and 
too cold at night. Finally he pulled off his 
coat, vest, and necktie, took the ax, and went 

At the Mines 95 

out; and presently I heard him chopping. 
After a while he returned, bringing in. pine 
twigs, with which he filled all the cracks about 
the comer where I lay ; then he cut a number of 
long poles and made a lean-to over my bed, cov- 
ering this shelter with pine brush, the long 
leaves of which he pointed downward, in order 
to shed any rain that might fall. After making 
me some corn-meal gruel and placing some 
water and medicine within reach, he left, say- 
ing he would return about nine o 'clock the next 

This doctor made eleven trips in all, charging 
half an ounce of dust for each trip, — which was 
cheap enough; for he either cooked something 
or brought something for me from town each 
time he came. On the fourth day after his last 
visit, while I was sitting out in the sunshine, 
my brother Alvin came. He reported that the 
company had struck good diggings in a canyon 
near Volcano Bar, which would last until we 
could get back to the river bars; but after I 
had shown him fifteen little packages of dust 
that I had obtained from the same number of 
pans of dirt, he advocated our leaving the com- 
pany and spending the winter here. However, 
as we would lose our river claims if we did this, 
we concluded to return. All of my work on 
this house was wasted, for none of our com- 
pany ever went back to the Mud Springs coun- 

96 A California Pioneer 

Alvin and I were four days making the trip, 
and, in my enfeebled condition, it was a tough 
journey. We found the members of our com- 
pany all busy making a ditch to carry the water 
past their claims. It was about six feet to bed- 
rock, and there were from six to twelve inches 
of pay gravel on the bottom, from which it was 
necessary to remove a mass of bowlders from 
six inches to two feet in diameter. There was 
one rock, however, about ten feet in diameter, 
which was resting upon about fifteen inches of 
pay gravel, and Casey declared he was going 
to get that gravel. 

As we had neither powder nor drills, we 
worked under the lower side of this big bowlder, 
and Casey finally had to lie on his side in about 
an inch of water in order to work under it, 
while we shored it up so as to keep it from set- 
tling. Casey worked with a light pick, and,^ as 
he loosened the gravel, he would poke it behind 
him with a short-handled shovel, while Baker 
raked it out with a hoe. 

Very soon Casey began to use some language 
that was as strong as it was copious, and, upon 
being asked what was the matter, said that some 

thing was on the point of his pick, and 

in the position he lay he could not get it off, 
so he threw the pick out to the others, — and the 
point of it was found embedded in a chunk of 
gold worth nearly three hundred and fifty dol- 

At the Mines 97 

In the spring of 1851, when the river had 
fallen so that we could work there, — ^while work 
could not be carried on in the canyons, because 
of the lack of water, — we moved to a low bar be- 
low Volcano. There were about seventy-five 
men working here, and one day one of the 
miners, with his big hammer poised in air, 
stopped and yelled: 

"Look, look, for God's sake look!" 

Every eye was instantly directed toward the 
trail, and then some one yelled : 

"Three cheers for the lady!" 

At the call every hat went off and every man 
yelled with all the lung power he possessed. A 
lady and a gentleman were walking along the 
trail. The sight of a woman in the mines at 
this time was extraordinary. They stopped, 
bowed to us, and went on their way. 



In the mountain sections of California in the 
early days there were, of course, all kinds and 
conditions of men. The great majority were 
of good character, but there was also a liberal 
sprinkling of bad and desperate men; and as 
there were no courts accessible, the miners made 
and executed their own decrees, there seeming 
to be a general agreement that, in order to keep 
in restraint those who were evilly disposed, it 
was absolutely essential that there should be an 
occasional object lesson, and as there were no 
jails, this always took the form of hanging. 

Even though the proof might not be alto- 
gether satisfactory, the example remained, and 
the lesson taught would be valuable to others. 
I have heard it said that it was not an unusual 
thing in those days for a miner to leave his gold 
dust in an exposed condition in his cabin dur- 
ing his absence, feeling sure that it would not be 
molested. I do not know, yet I am inclined 
to think there is more or less romance in this 
statement. Nevertheless, it is true that swift 
and certain death was the portion of one caught 


Judge Lynch a/nd TcmJcee Slide 99 

stealing, and this fate befell some who were 
merely suspected of it. 

I here digress to mention a story I once heard 
of some miners having lynched a man supposed 
to have been guilty of stealing a horse. After 
the "ceremonies" were over, and John was 
thoroughly "lynched" it was discovered that a 
mistake had been made and that the wrong man 
had been put to death. John, it seems, had left 
a widow, and one of the "lynching party" was 
sent to the widow to explain the mistake and to 
make such apologies as the situation permitted. 
He tapped gently at the open door, and, upon 
the widow's appearing, our apologist said: 

' ' Mrs. , we took John out about an hour 

ago and hung him for stealing a horse, and we 
have just found out that we got the wrong 
man; so the joke is on us." 

I do not vouch for the truth of this story, but 
I think it does give a fair illustration of the 
value that the early California pioneers put 
upon the life of a man even suspected of theft. 

Yankee Slide was situated on the east side of 
the middle fork of the American Eiver about 
three miles above Volcano Bar. At some re- 
mote period this slide had come down from the 
mountain and filled the old river channel to a 
depth of three hundred feet and for a distance 
of a mile, making thereby a lake three hundred 
feet deep, the river forming a new channel on 
the west. 

100 A California Pioneer 

In the lapse of the centuries the river had 
worn its way back to within about sixty feet of 
the old channel and to a depth of twenty feet 
below it. 

The discovery here was made by five New 
Englanders, hence the name Yankee Slide. I 
happened along at the time of the discovery, 
carrying a hundred-pound sack of chili flour on 
my back (for which, by the way, I had just paid 
one hundred dollars), and found great excite- 
ment, — ^miners coming from all directions and 
staking off claims. 

It was the privilege of the discoverers of a 
new mining ground to fix the size of locations, 
which varied with the extent of the diggings and 
the number of applicants. At Yankee Slide it 
was determined that each man's claim should 
be limited to fifteen feet frontage on the river,— 
the location of course extending away from the 
river indefinitely. > 

I dropped my sack of flour and immediately 
stuck up notices claiming fifteen feet for each 
man of our company, but the discoverers cut 
me down to sixty feet in all. In connection with 
the posting of notices, it was necessary that 
actual work be done in order to perfect title to 
a claim. So I borrowed a pick and shovel and 
went to work, and when night came I placed my 
sack of flour in the hole I had dug and sat down 
on it. I had no supper; but why should I eat 

Judge Lynch and Tcmkee Slide 101 

when I had the world by the tail and a down- 
hill puU? 

I sent word to our company to be at Yankee 
Slide before sunrise the next morning, and they 
were all promptly on hand. 

At the end of two days the excitement was 
over, and everybody was busy starting tunnels, 
pitching tents, or building log huts. At a depth 
of three feet the gravel was yielding five dol- 
lars to the bucketful. 

Sandy Bar adjoined Yankee Slide, on the 
river just above. This bar was about sixty 
yards wide and about four hundred yards long, 
and as there was fair mining on it, a small town 
sprung up as if by magic, and there were stores, 
gambling houses, and of course saloons, which 
are always present where gold is plentiful. 

At the end of the second week we were all 
running our main tunnels back across to the 
old channel, which proved to be about seventy 
feet wide, meantime throwing our loose rocks 
into the river, while, with our rockers at the 
edge, the tailings were being run into the 

There was one company owning the river bed, 
which they intended to work as soon as the 
river got low enough to be turned into a flume, 
which this company then had in course of con- 
struction, and they would of course, in order 
to work their claim, be compelled to remove all 

102 A California Pioneer 

of the tailings and rubbish that we were put- 
ting in. 

A Doctor Woodward, rather an arbitrary- 
man when in liquor, was the captain, or presi- 
dent, of this company. 

In our company there were two brothers 
named Balch, — Arad and Confucius, the latter 
of whom we called "Fuche," for short. He 
weighed about two hundred pounds, and when 
not imposed upon was as good-natured as he 
was big and strong. He was, however, very 
deaf, and, as will be seen, this drawback almost 
got him into trouble. 

One day Dr. Woodward, evidently in liquor, 
was going up and down the river, calling the 
attention of the miners to the running of their 
rubbish into the river and asking them to de- 
sist. When he reached our claim, Fuche was 
running the rocker, the tailings from which 
were going into the stream, and I was handling 
the wheelbarrow, wheeling out material from 
our tunnel. 

Dr. Woodward ordered Fuche to stop run- 
ning the tailings into the river, but the latter, 
unable to hear what the doctor had said, stepped 
up close to him and asked : 

"What did you say?" 

At this the doctor shook his fist in Fuche 's 
face, shouting: 

"Stop running the tailings into the river." 

Fuche, apparently yet unable to hear what 

Judge Lynch and Ya/nkee Slide 103 

had been said, taking the shaking of the doctor's 
fist to be a threatening demonstration, im- 
mediately swung a short-handled shovel and 
struck Dr. Woodward on the side of the head, 
the blow knocking him unconscious into the 

I reached the mouth of our tunnel in time to 
see the blow, and immediately dropped my 
wheelbarrow, and, rushing to Fuche, said : 

"Pull that man out of the river, or you will 
be hanged within two hours. ' ' 

Fuche did not hesitate, but plunged into the 
river. The water was about three feet deep and 
was moving swiftly, and Dr. "Woodward was 
merrily sailing along on the bottom. Fuche 
soon reached the unconscious man and drew him 
out at a point where there was a rock about 
three feet high (evidently placed there for the 
occasion), upon which Fuche placed the doctor. 
The top of this rock had its low side toward the 
river, and the doctor was placed upon it so that 
his head was down, while his feet and legs were 
hooked over the upper edge to hold him in posi- 
tion. Fuche put his knees upon the doctor's 
breast and then, by alternately pressing and 
letting go, finally got the water all pumped out 
of the doctor's lungs, and likewise the whiskey 
out of his stomach. The doctor came around 
all right. 

Two hours later there were about three hun- 
dred men assembled on Sandy Bar, and they 

104 A California Pioneer 

accused Fuclie of attempting to drown Dr. 
Woodward. The usual way of trying an ac- 
cused was to appoint a judge and twelve jurors, 
and this was now proposed. But some of the 
crowd said it would take too long, for, in addi- 
tion to disposing of this case, it was necessary 
for the meeting to take up for discussion the 
question of dumping rubbish in the river. The 
spokesman of the crowd proposed to draw a 
small log across the bar, making a mark, and 
those in favor of hanging Fuche were to stand 
on the west side, and those opposed to his hang- 
ing were to stand on the east side. 

The mark was drawn and witnesses were 
called. I testified that I saw Dr. Woodward 
shake his fist in Fuche 's face and that Fuche 
had knocked him into the river, and had then 
pulled him out, placed him upon a rock head 
down, and had pumped the water and whiskey 
out of him. 

Another witness testified to the same facts 
and the case appeared clear enough; but this 
crowd, some of them half drunk, did not want 
to leave their work to attend this meeting with- 
out hanging some one. We now "cast our bal- 
lots" by taking our places on the respective 
sides of the mark, and we saved Fuche by eight 
votes, I, of course, favoring his acquittal. 

This matter disposed of, we then took up the 
question of depositing rubbish in the river, and 
the meeting determined that the rockers could 

Judge Lynch amd Ycmkee Slide 105 

be run on the river and the tailings run into 
the stream; but the rocks must be disposed of 
in some other way. The decision was hard on 
both sides, yet its justice was recognized by all, 
for it was the only solution of the question that 
would permit work by all. If all the rubbish 
were dumped in, the river bottom would not be 
worth working, and if we on the Slide could not 
wash our gold out at the river, we would have 
to abandon our work until the river bottom was 
worked out, — which would probably take six 

After three weeks' operations under the new 
method, there was a bench of rocks between the 
tunnels, — a mass from four feet to six feet high, 
and extending the whole length of the Slide, 
Our main tunnels were now completed and we 
were stoping out the gravel on each side and 
piling the rocks behind us. 

Alvin and I leveled off the rocks between the 
tunnel and that of our next neighbor, covered 
them with pine twigs, pitched our tent, and ar- 
ranged our beds. The open end of the tent was 
toward the bank, and lying upon my bunk, I 
could see into the mouth of our own tunnel as 
well as into that of our neighbor. There was 
a large oak tree between our claims, some of 
the branches of which spread out over our tent. 
The mountain side above the tunnels was very 
steep, and we had cut into this and leveled off 
a space about ten feet wide and thirty feet long, 

106 A California Pioneer 

upon wMch we had placed our provision tent 
and cooking outfit. 

It was my custom after lunch to go to our 
tent and lie upon my bunk reading until it was 
time to again go to work. The tunnel of our 
neighbor originally belonged to three me;n, but 
they had recently sold a quarter interest to a 
stranger who lived at the hotel at Sandy Bar, 
and whom I will call John Schang (which was 
not his name). 

It was the custom of most of the miners to 
bury their gold dust, while others kept it in a 
belt around them when not at work, and while 
working they would leave it upon some over- 
head timber in the mine. 

One of these partners had a belt that held 
about three thousand dollars' worth of dust, and 
upon one occasion when going to work he placed 
this belt on the first bent of timbers at the mouth 
of the tunnel, forgot to take it with him when 
he went to lunch, and when he returned from 
lunch his belt of dust had disappeared. 

On this very day during the noon hour as I 
lay on my bunk, I had casually turned my eyes 
from my reading in the direction of this tunnel, 
when I saw Schang entering it. From where I 
lay it was not more than thirty feet to the mouth 
of the tunnel where the dust had been left, and 
had I known where it was, and had I been of a 
disposition to take it, I could have easily done 

Judge Lynch mid Ycmkee Slide 107 

so and hid it away among the rocks and recov- 
ered it weeks or months later. 

About three o 'clock in the afternoon, while I 
was at work in one of the stopes, I was sent 
for, and came out to find a mob of about two 
hundred miners, by whom I was immediately 
accused of stealing the belt of dust. Of course 
I denied having any knowledge of the affair, but 
I did remember having seen Schang go into the 
mine about five minutes ahead of his partners, 
and I felt satisfied that, if the gold had been 
stolen, Schang was the guilty party. I there- 
fore accused him of it; but my accusation was 
laughed at. 

Preparations for my hanging now went for- 
ward rapidly. Our tent was quickly torn down, 
a rope was thrown over a limb of the oak tree, 
and the noose was being prepared. 

The Balches each had a rifle, and Casey, Ben- 
nett, and my brother Alvin each had a six- 
shooter; and while I was protesting my inno- 
cence, Fuche determined to save my life at any 
cost and at all hazards. The mountain side of 
the level space occupied by our cooking outfit 
had been cut down so that it presented a per- 
pendicular wall about six feet high, and against 
this wall my five partners stood, with their 
weapons ready for action, and with their faces 
toward the mob. Suddenly, above the tumult 
of voices, Fuche shouted: 

' ' Carr Abbott did not steal that gold, and the 

108 A California Pioneer 

man that puts a rope over Ms head I will drop 
in Ms tracks." 

I can understand the feelings of the sMp- 
wrecked sailor as he first gets Ms hand upon a 
life-saving plank; of the desert wanderer, fam- 
ished with thirst, coming unexpectedly upon a 
spring of sparkling water; of the man trapped 
in the flames of a burning building, as he sets 
Ms foot upon the ladder that will lead Mm to 
the ground. All these situations are thriUing 
enough, but, as I stood there in the shadow of 
that oak-tree gallows, confronted by that mob 
of stern-visaged miners who had already con- 
victed me without a trial, and who had even 
laughed at my defense,— as I stood there com- 
pletely dazed, with my last hope ebbing away, 
tMs clear, ringing defiance from dear old Fuche 
was the sweetest sound which ever touched my 

Yet this threat, which everybody knew would 
be carried into execution, if necessary to save 
my life, did not end matters, nor did it even dis- 
concert the men to whom it was addressed. Im- 
mediately came the challenge : 

"Oh, you will, will you? Well, if we must 
hang the whole bunch of you in order to get Mm, 
we wiU hang all of you." 

" All right," said Fuche. "But we can kiU 
five or six before you reach us, and we are go- 
ing to die, or save that innocent man." 

The mob could not approach my brave com- 

Judge Lynch and Ycmkee Slide 109 

panions but from one side, and dared not make 
the attempt. It was not yet sundown, and yet, 
as though ashamed of the scene, Old Sol had 
hid his face behind a lofty peak. Finally, after 
much wrangling, Fuche proposed that they send 
me and Schang into the mine with candles, and 
that we be kept there until one or the other 
produced the gold. This was finally agreed to, 
after much grumbling, whereupon Fuche and 
several others rushed up to where I was and 
spoke to me encouragingly, patted me on the 
back, and told me to keep a stiff upper lip. 
And while this was going on Fuche, whose life 
I had helped to save at Sandy Bar, slipped a 
six-shooter under my blue jumper. Schang 's 
candle and mine were lighted, and we were now 
ready to go into the tunnel. 

Schang wanted me to go ahead, but I told him 
that I was not familiar with the inside of the 
mine, and as he was, he should lead. This was 
at length agreed upon, and we started. I fol- 
lowed him into the tunnel to a point nearly 
across the old channel of the river and was 
meantime revolving in my mind what could be 
done to force Schang to a truthful disclosure; 
for I was absolutely certain he was the thief. 
Having determined upon a plan of action, I 
now said to him: 

"Hold on! We have gone far enough." 
He stopped and turned around, facing me, 
with his candle in his right hand, while I now 

110 A California Pioneer 

had mine in the left. This hronght our candles 
within a foot of each other, but it also brought 
my six-shooter within six inches of Schaug's 
nose, and I said to him : 

"You stole that gold and would see an inno- 
cent man hanged for your crime. I am not 
going to be hanged for stealing; and if I am 
hanged at all it will be for blowing the top of 
your head off, and if you do not dig that gold 
up immediately and deliver it to your partners, 
you will not get out of this hole alive." 
He stammered and replied: 
"I want to speak to my partners." 
"Well," came the answer, "we are here. 
What do you want to say?" 

The partners, without the knowledge of 
Schang or myself, had quietly slipped off their 
shoes, and, without taking candles, had noise- 
lessly followed us into the mine, in order to 
overhear what passed between us. Having 
heard what I had said to Schang, they later in 
the day told me that they knew immediately 
that Schang, and not I, had stolen the 

"This young fellow will kill me sure if you 
do not interfere. ' ' 

"Is that all you have to say?" said one of 
the partners. 

"Yes," answered Schang, "except that you 
know I did not take the gold, and I will be killed 
sure if you do not interfere." 

Judge Lynch and Ycmkee Slide 111 

"All right," said one of them; "but before 
he kills you I would like to have you dig up 
that gold." And with this they started back. 

"Hold on," cried Schang, "I want to make 
a proposal. If you will keep that crowd from 
hanging me I will produce the gold. ' ' 

Until that moment my nerves had been per- 
fectly steady, but with this statement my whole 
being relaxed, and my frame shook and trem- 
bled like a poplar leaf in the breeze. I now 
lowered my pistol while Schang 's partners told 
him that they would do the best they could, but 
that they could not promise anything. ' ' Well, ' ' 
said Schang, "go back towards the front." 

We went to a point about twenty-five or thirty 
feet from the entrance, and here Schang went 
into one of those low stopes about eight feet 
from the main tunnel, got down on his knees, 
rolled over a rock, and there lay the belt of 
gold. He threw it out to his partners, and then 
made a dive in among the loose rocks that had 
been piled back as the miners worked forward, 
and that, in some places, filled the space to the 
overhead timbers, leaving ghastly holes. 

When we came out of the tunnel, and the mob 
was informed of what had taken place, they 
were the maddest lot of men I ever saw, be- 
cause we had not brought Schang out. 

Immediately from a box of candles at the 
mouth of the tunnel each man supplied himself, 
and into the mine they all went in quest of 

112 A California Pioneer 

Sohang; but their search was in vain, for they 
did not succeed in finding him. It was sur- 
mised that he had stowed himself away in some 
dark hole wheje he had remained until the 
shadows of night made it possible for him to 
escape unobserved. However this may be, he 
was never found, and, so far as I know, was 
never heard of afterward. 

I went to our little flat for supper, but my 
appetite was gone, and for weeks afterwards, 
as I closed my eyes in sleep, I could see that ac- 
cursed rope dangling above my head. 

It is not diflScult to write of swimming the 
ice-cold streams upon the plains leading a band 
of horses ; nor of standing half a night upon a 
rock, stamping my feet to keep from freezing 
while menaced by a pack of hungry wolves 
that were leaping to within two feet of the spot 
upon which I stood ; nor of crossing the barren 
sands of the desert, without food or water; nor 
of hobbling along for six days, with a cane in 
each hand and without a particle of food; nor 
of lying for eleven days under a brush cover- 
ing, consumed by a scorching fever, but tongue 
cannot tell, nor pen write, nor brush paint the 
horrors that passed through my mind during 
the three hours of that ever-to-be-remembered 
day when an unreasoning and bloodthirsty mob 
of miners almost took my life by violence. And 
I quite agree with the author of "The Cardi- 
nal's Snuff-Box" in his statement that the only 

Judge Lynch cmd Tanhee Slide 113 

things that are worth writing are inexpressible 
and cannot be written. 

Late in the summer of 1851 the saying, "All 
is quiet along Yankee Slide and Sandy Bar," 
became as common as "All quiet along the Po- 
tomac" was in the days of the Great Eebel- 
lion, or as " Villa is dead ' ' is common now. So, 
except for the following incident, there is little 
to record. 

A short distance above Sandy Bar there was 
a small bar upon which about fifty men were 
mining, and they obtained their gold, at a depth 
of from ten to twelve feet, by sinking pits five 
feet wide and ten feet long. In one of these 
pits two partners got into a quarrel, and one 
was killed by the other; whereupon the miners 
collected to investigate. The surviving partner 
declared that he had been attacked, and that he 
had fought only in self-defense and without any 
intention to kill ; but, as it had been some time 
since anybody had been hanged, the miners de- 
tached the rope from the hoisting tub, adjusted 
one end of it about the man's neck, and pushed 
him off into the pit, then turned the windlass 
until his feet were raised from the ground,.made 
the rope fast, and went back to their work. 
After supper both bodies were buried in a single 
grave on the mountain side. 



Theeb were few of the miners who were re- 
ligiously inclined, yet they nearly all rested on 
the Sahbath, and the time was passed in wrest- 
ling, jumping, pitching horseshoes, playing 
cards, gambling, drinking whiskey, and so on. 

One Simday a ventriloquist made his appear- 
ance at Sandy Bar and secured the use of a 
store, which had just been completed (pine poles 
and canvas-covered top and sides), for an eve- 
ning performance. The merchant's stock of 
goods had just arrived, and there was a great 
pile of sacks, boxes, and bales piled in the back 
end of the building, while at the other end the 
ventriloquist stationed himself behind a curtain. 
The big room was literally packed with miners, 
all standing, while the pile of goods in the rear 
was covered with men, among whom was our 
old friend Doctor Woodward, sitting upon a 
sack of Sandwich Island potatoes. 

The performance was a Punch and Judy af- 
fair, and wound up with a production of the 
Devil, horns and all, who looked terrifying 
enough. The head and shoulders of his Satanic 


Diversions and Amusements 115 

Majesty appeared just above the curtain, and 
by means of some wire attachment he was made 
to move his lips and chin as in talking. He 
made quite a speech, saying, among other 
things, that in this wild region where there were 
no infernal laws to bother, no society, no ladies, 
and no churches to make a great fuss about 
nothing, it was perfectly proper and commend- 
able to get drunk on Sunday and have a good 
time. Meantime Dr. Woodward, with a few 
jolts under his belt, had been busy cutting open 
a sack of potatoes, from which he selected a 
large one (worth a dollar, by the way), and 
threw it over the heads of the crowd below him, 
striking the Devil squarely in the face. The 
Devil dropped behind the curtain and remained 
out of sight until the yells and swinging of hats 
had ceased; then he came cautiously into view 
above the curtain and, with a long, bony finger 
pointed at Dr. Woodward, solemnly said: 
' ' Doc, Doc Woodward, I have a lien on you. ' ' 
The summer months were now nearly gone, 
Yankee Slide was almost worked out, and the 
River Company was broke, and it was a sad 
and a touching sight as those miners packed 
their blankets and struck out for other dig- 
gings, — without an ounce of dust and heavily 
in debt to the merchants, when they had, in 
fact, expected to be carrying fortunes back to 
the loved ones far away. But such was the fate 
of a large majority of the miners of those days. 

116 A California Pioneer 

A few weeks later our claim was exhausted, 
and in the last stope it was necessary for one 
man to bail out water while two men worked on 
their padded knees in water five or six inches 
deep, while from the springy ground overhead 
saffron-colored water dripped down their backs. 



The face of Yankee Slide toward tlie river 
side had an angle of about forty-five degrees, 
while the top, which was about four hundred 
feet wide and nearly level, was well covered 
with pine and spruce trees, many of them being 
five and six feet in diameter ; and it was here we 
obtained our supply of lagging for timbering 
the mines below. The trees were sawed into 
four-foot lengths and then split into boards six 
inches wide and one and a half inches thick, 
and were either carried down to the entrance 
to the tunnels or bound in bundles and hauled 
down by hand with a rope. 

About one hundred feet below the mouth of 
our tunnel there was a bench of land about fifty 
feet wide and seventy-five feet long, upon which 
a man by the name of Holmes had put up a 
building, and in which he was conducting a 
store. It was a house typical of the time, with 
poles set in the ground, and top and sides cov- 
ered with canvas. The structure was about 
thirty feet wide and fifty feet long, and there 
was aa open space between it and this steep 


118 A California Pioneer 

hillside, — a space just wide enougli for a pack 
train to pass along. At the north, or np-river 
end, of this building there was a bar built of 
split boards, while along the east side there was 
a row of tables made of the same material. 
The remainder of the floor space was filled with 
all kinds of groceries, provisions, and miners' 

About three hundred yards above this store 
there was a mine that was being worked by- 
three men, one of whom had been injured some 
time before in hauling lagging timber down 
this steep mountain side; and these partners 
made up their minds to avoid the further chance 
of injury, by rolling a big log down and then 
cutting it up at the mouth of their tunnel. 

Proceeding to a point on the top of the Slide 
close to the edge of the fall toward the river, 
and about equidistant from their mine and from 
the store, they cut down a tree, — about thirty- 
six feet long and more than five feet in diameter 
at the larger end and tapering to about three 
feet at the smaller end, — and after making due 
allowance for this difference in diameter, they 
had calculated to the nicety of a gnat's heel that, 
by starting the log on its journey at a particu- 
lar angle, it was absolutely certain that it would 
land just exactly at the place they wanted it at 
the mouth of their tunnel. 

Everything was now in readiness, and the log 
was started on its dash for the bottom, but "the 

Just an Incident 119 

best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley," 
and wMle the log went all right for part of the 
way, it soon struck against an oak tree, which 
reversed the log and turned the big end up- 
stream, and away it went, hellbent for Holmes' 

There were fifteen or twenty men inside the 
store, — drinking, playing cards, or trading, — 
and they were now in imminent danger ; but, for- 
tunately, the cook, happening to glance up from 
his pots and kettles, saw the log coming and 
shouted to the men, who "streaked it" out of 
the building, the last man emerging just as the 
log struck the building at a point about four 
feet above the ground, and went through it as 
if it had been thistledown. The building was 
literally sheared off; and flour, pickles, meal, 
sugar, beans, soap, crackers, New Orleans mo- 
lasses, vinegar, whiskey, bar fixtures, tables, 
and so on were strewn and scattered over the 
rocks all the way between the store and the 
river, fifty feet away. 

A big crowd of men gathered, and Holmes 
stood apart from them, hatless and forlorn, 
contemplating the devastation. While he stood 
thus in reverie, the three miners responsible for 
the trouble appeared and asked him if his name 
was Holmes, to which he replied that that had 
been his name five minutes before, but that he 
did not know what his name was now. 

They proposed to Hoknes to set about at once 

120 A California Pioneer 

rebuilding the store, and as soon as the amount 
of damage was ascertained they would imme- 
diately pay it. 

Dozens of men now went to work cleaning up 
the rubbish, getting posts, cutting poles, sew- 
ing canvas for covering, and gathering up the 
scattered merchandise, and by sundown they 
had a better looking building than the one that 
had been destroyed; for, instead of presenting 
to the beholder a vision of plain walls, it was 
now liberally sprinkled with great patches of 
color made by molasses, whiskey, vinegar, and 
canned goods. 

Just here I will call attention to a book of 
travels that I once read called ' ' Sights in Cali- 
fornia and Scenes by the Way," — a book of 
which I believed every word, because in its last 
chapter I found related two incidents that were 
within my personal knowledge. One of these 
was this : 

Eagle City, situated three miles up the river 
from Volcano, had about five hundred voters, 
and the wise men there set themselves to the 
task of electing a justice of the peace, saying 
that Volcano could dig gold on election day. 
Across the river from Volcano there were seven 
men working a claim, who were all relatives, 
and one of whom was a fool ; but he could shovel 
as well as a wise man, and it was understood 
that he was to be made use of until the claim 
was worked out, and then was to be abandoned 

Just an Incident 121 

to shift for himself. Volcano could not endure 
this snub offered it by Eagle City, and a caucus 
was held the night before election, and this fool 
was nominated for justice of the peace. Al- 
though it was a state election, the rest of the 
ticket was ignored as of no importance. With 
the votes of the miners at Volcano, aided by 
those of the roughs and gamblers at Eagle 
City, the fool was elected by a handsome ma- 
jority. This ended that day's sport, but the 
night was one of peril. 

In 1849 a dam constructed of logs, rocks and 
brush had been thrown across the river at the 
upper end of Volcano Bar. It still remained 
and a sheet, of water about four feet deep, 
caused by a cloudburst, was now pouring over 
it. At the center of this dam stood a post, — 
a log, — which extended about five feet above the 
water, while below the dam the river was white 
with foam, and the waters swirled and beat 
against the rocks and bowlders so that no land 
animal could have gone over this dam and sur- 

The seven men to whom I have referred had 
attended the election at Volcano, and at sun- 
down started back. They had a small log boat 
capable of carrying two men, and, with the fool 
at the bow of the boat and one of the other men 
in the stern with the paddle, the boat was 
started across. Upon reaching the middle of 
the river it became apparent to the man in the 

122 A California Pioneer 

stern that lie would be unable to react either 
shore, as the boat was being carried rapidly 
downstream ; and just as it was about to go over 
the dam he jumped for this post and succeeded 
in holding fast to it, his feet resting on the top 
of the dam and his head and shoulders just 
above the water. The boat and the "Justice" 
went over the dam, and neither was seen again. 

The post was about seventy-five feet from 
either shore, and in a few moments the entire 
population of the town was at the river, dis- 
cussing plans for a rescue. There was a big 
skiff used as a ferry at Eagle City, and it being 
known that it could not be bought nor borrowed, 
three of our men went up in the dark and stole 
it, then brought it down to where we were. 

By this time it was so dark that we could not 
see the man clinging to the post, except by the 
light of a big log fire that we had built. There 
was a rope extended across the river above the 
dam, which was held up by numerous empty 
tin cans, and to the center of this rope we tied 
another rope about seventy-five feet long, and 
to the lower end of it was attached a block of 
light wood. We then untied the ends of the 
cross-river rope and moved it downstream un- 
til the block was within reach of the clinging 
man ; but the roughness of the water, as it beat 
against the post, deflected the block to right and 
left, and it was some time before he was able to 
get hold of it. We then yelled to him not to 

Just an Incident 123 

let loose of the post but to cling to it with all 
his might, and we would pull him off; because 
it was apparent that if he should let go and 
there should be the least slack in the rope, he 
would go over the dam. 

We now pulled the rope taut, and, when he 
did let go of the post, he shot up the river eight 
or ten feet, as though hurled from a catapult. 
We drew him unconscious to the shore, but hot 
blankets, vigorous rubbing, and liberal pota- 
tions of hot whiskey revived him and brought 
him around all right, and at three o'clock in 
the morning we all went to bed. 



About the 20th of October our claim on Yan- 
kee Slide was completely worked out. Al- 
vin and I intended to leave for San Francisco, 
on our way to Wisconsin, on the first day of 
November; but as there were eight others who 
were going to leave on the fifteenth, we con- 
cluded to go all together. I was now quite ill 
from my last siege underground, and needed 
sunshine; and as the sun did not reach down 
into this canyon until half -past ten in the morn- 
ing and disappeared at three o'clock in the 
afternoon, the doctor advised me to go to Co- 
loma, where there was plenty of sunshine, and 
to wait there for the remainder of our party, 

I started on this trip afoot, wearing a long 
blouse, which covered a belt containing about 
twenty-five pounds of gold dust worth about five 
thousand dollars. I carried a six-shooter in an- 
other belt on the outside. I followed a zigzag 
trail up to Old Longy's, where I stopped over- 
night, and the next morning set out for George- 
town over a good, broad trail that had been 
well brushed out, in order to accommodate the 


Bight Place — Wrong Time 125 

pack mule trains carrying supplies to the mines 
along the river and its tributaries. 

"When about eight miles from Georgetown my 
trail led through a belt of very thick brush 
about eight or ten feet high. Suddenly I heard 
a rustling in the brush on my right, and upon 
looking in that direction, observed the topmost 
twigs moving in such a way as to indicate that 
whatever was causing the twigs to move was 
headed toward the trail at a point ahead of me. 
I thought it was probably a coyote or wild cat, 
and I drew my pistol, and pointing it ahead of 
me along the trail, mentally remarked : 

"I will break you of killing chickens." 

As I held my pistol thus pointing, out stepped 
a man holding a cooked pistol by his side, but, 
fortunately, his pistol was down and mine was 
up. We eyed each other for a few seconds, 
whereupon he said : 

"Are you going to Georgetown? If so, there 
is plenty of room to pass." 

I replied that I was going to Georgetown, but 
that I did not propose to go ahead of a man 
who would sneak into a trail with a pistol in 
his hand, and I said to him : 

"Drop it quick." 

He did so ; and as the weapon was cocked the 
jar discharged it, and the bullet buried itself 
in the ground, I asked him if he had any more 
firearms about him, and he shook his head. I 

126 A California Pioneer 

then said to liim that a highwayman might 
easily be a liar, and for him to turn around and 
walk slowly down the trail ahead of me; which 
he did. 

When I reached the place where his pistol 
had dropped, I picked it up and threw it as 
far as I could into the brush. Of course I knew 
that if I took him into Georgetown he would be 
hanged within two hours, — and perhaps I ought 
to have driven him in, but I had never been in 
favor of "lynch law," and I also now knew 
from experience just how a man feels when he 
is about to be hanged ; so I simply could not do 
it. When we had gone about two miles and 
were out in the open country, I pointed to a 
large pine tree about fifty yards to the right 
and told him to go there and to stay there un- 
til I got out of sight. And this he did. 

When I arrived at the hotel in Georgetown 
I told of this experience, and the proprietor 
was wild because I had not brought the high- 
wayman into town, saying there had been sev- 
eral miners robbed in that same belt of brush 
during the summer, and he wanted me to stay 
over a day and he would get up a crowd and 
burn the brush and drive the highwayman out, 
so that I could identify him; but this idea was 
abandoned, as a fire would involve the probable 
destruction of several miners ' cabins. 

The next morning, however, a posse was sent 

Bight Place — Wrong Time 127 

out. But I never learned whether the man was 
apprehended, as on that day I went on to Co- 
loma, where I remained until my brother and 
the rest of our party came along. 



Wb traveled by stage from Coloma to Sacra- 
mento, and then by steamer to San Francisco, — 
the steamer trip costing an ounce of dust. 

In 1849 the good ship Niantic, having been de- 
serted by her crew, at high tide floated to the 
southwest corner of Washington and Mont- 
gomery Streets, where it lodged; and it had 
been fitted up and was now doing duty as the 
Niantic Hotel, Here we remained until ready 
to sail for the Isthmus. 

Unable to get berths on the steamer, we were 
booked in the steerage at three hundred dol- 
lars each, paying for our passage in gold dust 
at sixteen dollars an ounce, — dust that was 
worth nineteen dollars at the Philadelphia mint. 

The site of the Palace Hotel was then nothing 
but sand dunes, while west of Dupont Street 
there was a mass of brush. We went to an 
elevation from which we could see the Golden 
Gate, the islands in the bay, and the Oakland 
and Alameda shores, with the green hills be- 
yond, upon which wild cattle then roamed. We 
then went aboard our ship and selected our 


Homeward Bownd 129 

bunks in the steerage, but, upon examining tbe 
mattresses, beat a retreat, as we here found 
denizens whom we feared, if they got mad, 
might pull the mattresses from under us. We 
never went into that hole again, but slept on 
deck. Fortunately, too, we had taken the pre- 
caution of carrying with us a good supply of 

The steamer was overloaded with passengers, 
and the living conditions were such that I shall 
not even attempt to describe them. 

We arrived at Panama seventeen days out 
from San Francisco, and anchored a mile from 
shore. Here the passengers were taken in the 
ship's boats, but they could not get nearer than 
about one hundred feet from the shore, and 
from there the passengers were carried upon 
the backs of the natives. We had expected to 
go on horseback across the Isthmus, but the 
travel had been so great that there was not a 
horse, mule, or jackass to be had ; so we started 
on foot for Cruces on the Chagres River, from 
which point boats would take us to Chagres Bay, 
where we could board a steamer for New York. 

At San Francisco I had bought a pair of 
patent leather shoes, thinking they would be 
nice to wear on board ship, and not expecting 
that I would have to do any walking on the 

We started across the Isthmus on foot, and as 
there had been a recent heavy rainfall, which 

130 A Calif ornia Pioneer 

compelled us to walk at times througli mud and 
water, my shoes fell to pieces at a point about 
seven miles from Panama, and I was able to 
bind tbe soles to my feet only by tearing a pair 
of drawers and an undershirt into strips and 
tying them around. 

About eight miles from Cruces we came upon 
a saloon, which was a building covered with 
bamboo poles from the eaves down to a point 
about two feet from the ground, leaving an open 
space for light and ventilation. Alvin caught 
sight of a pair of shoes upon the floor of this 
building, which could be reached from the out- 
side through this open space, and at his sugges- 
tion I called the dozen tall black fellows sitting 
about to come to the bar for drinks, while Alvin 
quietly slipped out, reached in and stole this 
pair of shoes, then started down the trail. If 
I am to be regarded as a particeps criminis in 
this transaction, I justify it upon the ground of 
necessity, which knows no law, and upon the 
further consideration that there was no evi- 
dence that these shoes had any owner, and if 
they did have an owner, he evidently had two 
pairs of shoes, while I had none, and in that 
country one pair of shoes would seem to be suf- 
ficient for any man of ordinary means. 

We soon overtook Alvin, and I foimd that, 
by putting on two pair of socks and stuffing in 
a couple of handkerchiefs, I could wear these 
brogans, but fearing that they might be missed 

Homeward Bound 131 

and that I would be pursued, I took the lead and 
ran nearly all the way to Cruces ; but just be- 
fore reaching there I threw them away and went 
in my stocking feet into town, where I bought 
another pair of shoes. 

At this point we hired a boat and boatmen 
and started down the river, but it soon became 
so dark that we were compelled to make camp 
for the night. We got started on our way the 
next morning at sunrise, and reached Chagres 
about noon, where we expected to take the 
steamer for New York, but because of head 
winds and rough weather our steamer had gone 
to Navy Bay, now Colon. The railroad then in 
course of construction had reached the Chagres 
Eiver at a point about ten miles above Chagres, 
whither we were taken in a small stem wheel 
steamer, and here we boarded a train made up 
of construction cars. As the road had not yet 
been ballasted we bumped along at about four 
miles an hour to Navy Bay, and here in the good 
ship Georgia, — a great, high, round-nosed, 
side-wheeled old tub, — took passage for New 

We stopped at Havana about five hours to 
take on coal. A rebellion had just been sup- 
pressed, and the leader, Lopez, was to be ex- 
ecuted that very day. I did not attend the 
execution, but some of our party did ; and they 
reported the execution to have taken place as 
follows : 

132 ^A California Pioneer 

There was a great castiron box with an open- 
ing in it JTist large enough for a man to sit down 
in. The victim was put in this box, and the box 
was then closed and fitted closely around his 
neck, leaving his head outside at the top. With 
a machine something like a derrick they low- 
ered a great iron clamp, which, as it reached 
the victim's head, opened and took in his head, 
whereupon the clamp was drawn upward, pull- 
ing off the head of the victim, while the blood 
from the broken arteries of his neck ran, like 
water from a garden hose, over the iron block 
to the ground. The execution took place in the 
beautiful Plaza, and was witnessed by thou- 
sands; the barbarous method of execution em- 
ployed being adopted to strike terror to the 
soul of those that dared rebel against Spanish 
rule, but, as might be expected, it had just the 
opposite effect, and the plotting of treason still 
went on. 

On Christmas day we reached New York, and 
by one o 'clock that afternoon the barbers, bath 
houses, and clothing stores had so changed our 
appearance that we hardly knew one another 
when we met for lunch. To see a white-haired 
man was a curiosity to us, for there was none 
such in California, and here in New York we 
fairly gaped at them as we met them on the 
streets. We spent two days in seeing the 
sights, and then came our parting, and it was 
indeed hard to separate from those who had 

Homeward Bov/nd 133 

been friends in the exciting scenes and incidents 
througii wMch we had passed. We put on bold 
faces, however, shook hands, and started in dif- 
ferent directions for the loved ones at home. 

Alvin and I arrived at Beloit, Wisconsin, 
January 20, 1852, having been detained on the 
way two weeks, when Alvin was attacked with 
Panama fever. 

We were now home again, and as during my 
absence Elizabeth had not found a fellow she 
thought would make a better husband than I, 
we were married on the 19th of the following 



Befobe leaving California I liad determined 
to get back there just as quickly as I could, so 
I immediately set about preparing for my sec- 
ond trip "the plains across." 

The experience I had gained on my first trip 
convinced me that ox teams would be prefer- 
able to horse teams, and, as I was fitting out for 
the second journey, not a little fun was made of 
me by my friends on this account; yet I knew 
that, there being no railroad, the dull ox was 
the next fastest means of travel. The explana- 
tion of which is this : 

The horse was constructed by nature as a 
faster animal than the ox, and his paunch is 
but a few inches in diameter and lays length- 
wise of his body so as not to interfere with his 
movements, and he requires more condensed 
and richer food, which must be masticated be- 
fore it is swallowed. Therefore, if you put him 
on a grass diet alone, he spends the whole night 
selecting the choicest and richest tufts of grass, 
and when sunrise comes he goes into the har- 
ness without sleep, — and no animal can live 


The Second Trip Across 135 

without sleep. Of course he occasionally shuts 
his eyes while leaning against the collar, but 
the crack of the whip soon reminds him that 
he is the servant of the two-legged beast on 
the box, and the result is that within four weeks 
after crossing the Missouri his ribs show as 
plainly as black hoops on a white barrel, and 
then between Fort Laramie and the summit of 
the Rocky Mountains, — at some camp ground 
out of the way of the emigrant travel, — two or 
three weeks are lost in resting and feeding. 
Experience showed that about thirty per cent 
of the horses never reached the Sierra Nevada 

Upon the other hand, the slow ox has a bread 
basket that holds about a bushel ; with his rough 
tongue, a foot long, he reaches out and sweeps 
in whatever comes in its way, and in two hours 
he has his fill, then lies down and puts in the 
whole night in sleep, raising a cud of food from 
one side of the basket, chewing and then de- 
positing it on the other side, until the whole 
has been masticated. He has, moreover, slept 
through the entire operation, and at sunrise he 
is ready for the yoke, and, if not driven more 
than twenty miles a day, he reaches the summit 
of the South Pass of the Rockies fit for the 
shambles, and has already commenced to over- 
take the horse trains that crossed the Missouri 
at the same time. 

I fitted out four teams of five yoke each, and 

136 A California Pioneer 

took along also sixteen extra oxen and fifty- 
cows. Alvin was again a member of onr com- 
pany, as was also brother John, with Ms wife 
and three children. I took also twenty-one pas- 
sengers, who paid one hundred and twenty-five 
dollars each, and who agreed to do their equal 
share of the work on the way over. 

"We left Beloit March 2, 1852, and crossed 
the Mississippi at Dnbnqne, and later crossed 
the Missouri at Council Bluffs. At that time 
Iowa was inhabited only along the streams 
and belts of timber, and the broad prairies were 
well covered with last year's growth of grass. 

There was an occasional belt of wet laad, 
from fifty to seventy-five feet wide, with tus- 
socks and tan blade grass, which we were able 
to cross by lengthening our ox teams so that 
there would be two or three pairs of oxen on 
the firm ground ahead. 

Our wagons were taken across the Missouri 
one at a time in a scow,— at five dollars a trip,— 
but my own men had to do all the rowing, and 
as the river was raging we had to start in the 
water about half a mile above the come-out on 
the other side. "We got the oxen across this 
stream by leading two of them behind a boat, 
and driving the others in to follow them, two 
men following in a skiff to keep the loose cattle 
from turning back. Our crossing was made 
without any mishap, and we stopped for the 

The Second Trip 'Across 137 

nigM at the site of the present city of Omaha. 
Old Sarpie was still trading there, and he in- 
formed Tis that the Pawnees were hostile and 
giving much trouble because the emigrants were 
slaughtering ten times as much game as they 
had any use for, — leaving much of it to rot, 
while the Pawnee women and children were 
starving. He said we should have at least fifty 
men, and that one hundred would be better, un- 
til we reached the Sioux nation, which was 

We, of course, had not molested the Pawnees 
nor their game, but were well aware that for 
the violation of his laws the Indian holds re- 
sponsible not only the individual but the tribe 
to which he may belong. 

We here joined a company of sixteen men, 
with four wagons and fifty oxen ; and now, with 
forty men in aU, we moved westward March 
19th. At the Loup we rested for a day, and 
here were joined by a company in charge of two 
men named Beam and Pugh, with forty men and 
five hundred head of cattle. We agreed to 
travel separately, but for safety were to camp 
together each night until we reached the Sioux 

I here digress to remark that when our com- 
pany had reached a point about two hundred 
miles west of the Missouri we were overtaken 
by a train of horse teams, made up of five 

138 A California Pioneer 

wagons, witli four horses each. Upon the side 
of each wagon was lettered in bold type 


As they gayly passed us by, one of the drivers 
asked if we had any word to send to friends in 
Sacramento, but having made the trip with 
horse teams myself, I felt quite safe of my 
ground in answering that we would be in Sacra- 
mento thirty days before he reached that town, 
and sure enough we overtook and passed this 
company at a point about fifty miles before we 
reached the desert, where they had been com- 
pelled to stop for days, in order to rest their 
worn-out teams. 

We were now in the buffalo country, yet not 
a rifle was permitted to be fired by any of our 
company. The buffalo had all been frightened 
away from the river bottom by the continual 
firing of the emigrants, but they could be seen 
on the low hills to the north of the Platte bot- 

One evening two Indians came to our camp, — 
and after I had exchanged some sugar, corn 
meal, a loaf "of bread, and a chunk of boiled beef 
for a pair of leggins, a buckskin purse, and a 
belt, for which I had no use, — I told them to tell 
their Chief that I would give him two plugs of 
tobacco and five pounds of sugar for a buffalo, 
if he would send men to help kill it. I thought 

The Second Trip Across 139 

my having him send his own men a wise pre- 
caution to avoid any misunderstanding. 

The next morning they arrived, and I sent 
two men with them. They soon came upon a 
big buffalo in a low swag in the plain, and as 
our men were not accustomed to shooting big 
game, they shot him in every place but the right 
one, and he stampeded and came on the dead 
run headed straight for our train. It is a mat- 
ter of common knowledge that a wounded or 
stampeded buffalo is utterly oblivious of ob- 
structions in his way, and as we saw him com- 
ing we plied our whips in order to get out of 
the way, but he struck squarely against one of 
the front wheels of our hind wagon, and fell 
dead in his tracks. It took us a day and a half 
to repair that wheel with wood taken from a 
cotton wood log, — the only material we could 
find, — and meantime Beam and Pugh were far 
ahead of- us; as we were in a hostile country 
this boded us no good. The Big Chief of the 
Pawnees lived on the Missouri ; but every thirty 
or forty miles we found a sub-chief. 

On the second day after this occurrence our 
forward scouts came on the run, and reported 
that about one hundred Indians were coming to 
meet us on the road ahead. 



As soon as tlie Pawnees came in sigM I no- 
ticed that tlie Chief was about forty feet in the 
lead, and the Indians were divided into the same 
number of groups as there were wagons in our 
train. I thought that I knew exactly what this 
meant, for when they stopped it would bring a 
group right opposite each one of our wagons. 
Brother John was driviag the hind wagon, aad 
I was sitting on the forward end of it with my 
feet on the tongue hounds. I signaled to the 
men in the rear to drive the loose stock along- 
side of our wagons, and for all of them to arm 
for defense. Each man had a rifle and a pistol, 
and there were three men to each wagon who 
took turns in driving, and these were all quickly 
out of their wagons and on the side of the 
wagons opposite the ones upon which the In- 
dians were coming. 

When the Chief reached a point opposite our 
wagon I was standing up on the hounds. He 
stopped and whirled around to throw his spear 
at John, but I had meantime made a jump to 
the ground, and stood before him with the muz- 


Menaced hy the Pawnees 141 

zle of my rifle almost against his breast. His 
spear was poised ready to throw, for what 
seemed to me to be a long time, bnt it perhaps 
did not exceed fifteen seconds. Meantime, aU 
the teams had stopped, and both sides were 
ready for the signal from the Chief, bnt it did 
not come ; for he lowered his spear and rested 
the end of the shaft on the ground, then turned 
half around, without moving his head but keep- 
ing his eyes on the muzzle of my rifle, then 
broke and ran for the river, while the balance 
of his warriors followed. 

I sent two men to ride down a low swale which 
here came down from the north, to watch the In- 
dians, whUe another man was sent on ahead to 
overtake Beam and Pugh and ask them to wait 
until we came up. The scouts reported that the 
Indians had forded the Platte to an Indian vil- 
lage, and at least two hundred of them had gone 
up the river and crossed back to the north side 
at a belt of timber about five miles ahead of us, 
where they no doubt expected we would camp 
for the night, and they would fall upon us when 
most of us were asleep. The man who had 
been sent on ahead reported that he had gone 
at least ten mUes and had seen no sign of Beam 
or Pugh, so we concluded to go into camp at 
once. We placed the wagons in a circle and 
lashed the tongue of each wagon to the inside 
hind wheel of the one ahead. We then dug 
rifle pits around this corral of wagons and piled 

142 A California Pioneer' 

Tip a sod fence, to prevent spears and arrows 
striking tlie women or children. 

Our camp was in a belt of resin weed, and the 
old last year's stocks were from four to five feet 
high and quite thick. We made no fire to guide 
the Indians to our camp, but suppered on hard- 
tack, cold buffalo meat, and Platte River water. 
Our firearms were now examined, cleaned and 
loaded, and at sundown the stock was all put in 
the corral and tied to the wagons and to the big 
ropes, about sixty feet long, which we had 
stretched across the corral and made fast to the 
tops of the wheels, after which each man took 
his rifle pit, laid his revolver on the top of the 
sod fence, and we were ready for the night's 

We had with us four dogs, one of them a 
large Newfoundland. He was led around on 
the outside of the corral two or three times, the 
other dogs following, and the rope was then 
taken off and they were told to watch. These 
dogs seemed to understand the situation as well 
as we did, and I do not believe they lay down or 
stopped walking around that camp until they 
were all dead the next morning. 

A few minutes before the first streak of day- 
light showed, they all set up a terrific howling, 
and would run off into the tall weeds, growling 
and snarling, then run back to camp, apparently 
to learn if we too were on the watch. Oc- 
casionally there would be a mournful yelp, as 

Menaced by the Pawnees 143 

a dog received a deadly thrust from a spear, 
and within five minutes they were all killed. 

Then followed a profound and oppressive si- 
lence, then the breaking of the dried resin weed 
as some moccasined foot pressed it. A little 
more light, and we could see over this resin- 
weed thicket an Indian head appear here and 
there for an instant, then disappear, only to 
come in view again, — still nearer. 

In a few moments the leaders were within 
twenty-five yards of our camp, waiting for the 
war whoop of their Chief, while we were watch- 
ing for the same signal. But the whoop did not 
come, for the sight of those forty rifles and the 
pistols lying on the breast-work evidently made 
those savages realize that an attack meant the 
loss of half their men. 

A peculiar yeU was now given by their Chief, 
and the Indians beat a hasty retreat, going 
straight over the resin weeds. Some of our 
men wanted to shoot them as they retreated, 
but, as this would only have increased our 
danger of attack later on by larger numbers, 
not a shot was fired. 

We immediately broke camp and were soon 
on our way, keeping a scout one mile in front 
and another one mile to the rear to watch the 
Indians. I sent another man ahead to overtake 
Beam and Pugh, which he did near the west 
line of the Pawnee Nation, and they imme- 
diately went into camp to wait for us, who, by 

144 A California Pioneer 

continuous driving, readied them, at eight 
o'clock in the evening, having made a forty- 
five mile journey in approximately fifteen hours. 
Incidentally, it was forty hours since we had 
cooked a meal. They kindly took our stock to 
the river and guarded them all night, and soon 
had ready for us barbecued buffalo steak, big 
cans of hot coffee, and Dutch ovens full of hot 

Beam and Pugh started early the next morn- 
ing while we did not leave until after lunch. 
"We went about five miles, which took us out of 
the Pawnee country, and here we remained for 
that day and the following day, to rest our 



Beam and Pugh passed us, and we passed 
them, several times before reacKing California, 
and the last time I saw them was at a point 
about three miles east of the summit of the 
Sierra Nevadas. I shall never forget their 
kindness in delaying their own journey in order 
to protect our company from a hostile tribe of 

There is little worth recording from here un- 
til we reached the meadows on the Humboldt 
River, which were about twenty-five miles above 
the Sink. Here my wife, brother John, and 
two other men were sick with fever, and thirteen 
of my passengers deserted me, taking their 
blankets and leaving during the night. At this 
point I abandoned the wagon with the cotton- 
wood wheel, and put six pair of oxen to each 
of the three remaining wagons, in one of which 
we carried twelve tin cans, with which I pro- 
posed to carry water on the desert. They had 
been filled with supplies of various kinds, but 
were now empty. Two of these cans would 
reach across the wagon bed. We filled them 


146 A California Pioneer 

with water and started for the Sink, which we 
reached the next day. 

Before daylight the next morning we were 
well out on the desert, and before sundown 
reached the edge of the fifteen miles of soft 
sand. Here we watered the stock and rested 
for a few hours, and at eleven o'clock at night 
started over the fifteen mile strip. There was 
a slight breeze blowing from the south, and 
when we got within ten miles of the Carson, the 
stock all smelled the water, and the teams 
walked as fast as they could and without being 
urged, while the loose stock passed the wagons 
on their way to water, which we reached at 
about half-past three in the morning. "We 
crossed the mountains without mishap, and 
camped temporarily where a tributary of the 
Sacramento Eiver reaches the plain. 

Uncle Ira went to the mines, brother Alvin 
into the hotel business, while John and I leased 
a ranch on the west side of the Sacramento 
Eiver, about two miles below the city. 

Our house stood on posts three feet high, 
and this looked suspicious to me, but as we 
knew nothing about floods we thought no more 
of it. I bought two sows at fifty dollars each, 
and twelve chickens at four dollars each, and 
went to farming. 

Our crops were getting along nicely, and 
then it began to rain; and it kept on raining for 
a month. The river was rising rapidly, and 

At Sacramento — Flood and Fire 147 

our neighbors were collecting their stock and 
taking it across the river to Sacramento and 
then to the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. We 
got our stock, — consisting of eighty head of 
cattle and horses, — gathered, intending to take 
them across the river the next day; but about 
two o'clock in the morning we heard water run- 
ning under the house, and upon investigation 
found that it was up to the sills and sweeping 
off toward the big tule swamp to the west. 
Very soon all of our stock, including cattle, 
horses, hogs and chickens, had been swept into 
that tule lake and drowned, with the single ex- 
ception of one horse that had climbed on top 
of the woodpile. 

The course of the river banks was marked 
only by a belt of oaks that stood up in the vast 
waste of water. We had wood enough in the 
house to last two days, and knowing that the 
supply would be exhausted before we would 
likely be rescued, we waded in water up to our 
necks to a clump of small oaks about fifty yards 
from the house, and against which the hen 
house had lodged, and we chopped this up and 
floated the pieces to the house, piling them on 
the porch. The posts at each end of the house 
stood the flood aU right, but those in the center 
gave way, whereupon the floor settled in the 
center and parted, and water to the depth of 
a foot rushed in, although the floor was dry at 
each end. 

148 A Gcdifomia Pioneer 

We existed under these difficulties for eight 
days, and on the fourth day, to add to the gay- 
ety of our situation, a young lady called upon 
us. She should have been ashamed of the way 
she was dressed, and probably she was ; for she 
was as red as a Pajaro apple, and weighed nine 
and three-quarter pounds. 

Phillips, a French fisherman, to whom we had 
given the privilege of pitching his tent and 
stretching his net on the river bank, hearing an 
Unusual squall from the house, asked John : 
"For God's sake what is that?" 
"That is a sea nymph that Carr's wife caught 
during the flood," answered John. "It came 
up through that hole in the floor." 

And our young lady visitor was called 
"Nymph," until she went to school. 

After the flood waters had receded, we hired 
two men to chop wood, which we sold in Sacra- 
mento at twenty-five dollars a cord. John 
made two boats, one of which would carry a 
cord and a half, — ^whioh was used to take the 
wood to Sacramento,— while the other would 
carry about half a cord, and was used for de- 
livering the wood to purchasers. The water 
had been from three to five feet deep in the 
streets, but was now drained off and the soft 
mud was from three inches to two feet deep. 
For motive power I had a pair of oxen, and 
walked in my long gum boots when the mud was 
shallow, and rode in the boat when the mud was 

'At Sacramento — Flood and Fire 149 

too deep. Later on we hauled wood with a 
horse team, and were engaged in this work 
when the great fire broke out in Sacramento. 
I assisted ia moving merchandise threatened by 
this fire, and for this I was paid ten dollars a 

On reaching the southwest comer of the plaza 
with a load of cooking stoves, I noticed a big 
barrel in the street, with the head knocked in. 
It apparently contained some kind of liquor, 
for a lot of men were standing around drinking 
from long beer glasses, and considering the size 
of these glasses I concluded the liquor must be 
light wine of some kind, and I asked for a drink, 
and some one passed up a big glass full. After 
I had drank about half of it I mistrusted that 
it was something stronger, and I asked the men 
what it was. 

"Brandy, you chump!" they replied. 

I had never tasted brandy before, and I be- 
came very much intoxicated, for the first and 
only time in my life. I had heard that vinegar 
would check the effect of strong drink, so I 
quickly bought a bottle of pickles, drank the 
vinegar and ate the pickles; but all to no pur- 
pose, for I was thoroughly soused, and I remem- 
ber that I unloaded these stoves as if they had 
been cord wood, for I was now feeling rich and 
cared nothing for expense. 

Then a Hebrew tobacconist piled his goods on 
my wagon, and his wife, with a large mirror, 

150 A California Pioneer 

got on the seat beside me, I demanded my ten 
dollars, but he replied : 

"I pay no bills to-day." 

I stopped my team and began to unload his 
loose boxes of cigars among the crowd, to which 
they helped themselves, whereupon my ten dol- 
lars was paid. This load was to be delivered 
north of J Street among a lot of gigantic syca- 
mores, and in passing under one of them, a 
branch shoved its way clear through the big 
mirror, and my lady passenger immediately ac- 
cused me of being as drunk as a fool, which I 
presume Was approximately true. 

By the time I got back, the fire was in full 
swing, the Court House was in flames, and 
Sacramento was soon in ashes. 

During the following fall, — John having gone 
to Nevada City, — I took off the crop, and with 
a span of horses and a wagon, my wife and the 
sea nymph, and with one cow tied behind, and 
five hundred dollars in my pocket, I went to 
Nevada City and engaged in the milk business, 
purchasing ten cows, for which I paid forty dol- 
lars a head. 

Soon thereafter a destructive fire swept 
Nevada City, and as all my best customers had 
been burned out, and it would be months be- 
fore it would be normal there again, I deter- 
mined to move to Marin County, 



I LOCATED at Point Eeyes in Marin County, 
probably the best dairy county in the state. 
This was in 1858. This whole country, from 
Point Reyes to Point Tomales, was stocked with 
Spanish cattle, many of them very wild, and the 
grizzly and cinnamon bears were very plentiful, 
doing great damage to the stock. I here en- 
gaged in dairying, — shipping produce to San 

While living at this place I witnessed the 
wreck of the Sea Nymph about two miles north 
of Point Reyes. During the night we were 
awakened by the shooting of a cannon, and upon 
going to the beach, found this ship stranded. 
Soon there were about thirty men gathered on 
the beach, and by means of a kite a small rope 
was sent to shore, and to this was attached a 
hawser, which was made fast on the shore and 
then drawn taut with a capstan. In this way 
all those aboard ship, except one .man, were 

On the day before Christmas, 1862, I loaded 
eight boxes of butter and seventy head of hogs 


152 A California Pioneer 

aboard the schooner Long Island, which plied 
between Tomales Bay and San Francisco. 
Captain Sid Nelson asked me to make the trip 
with him, to take charge of the hogs and the 
unloading of them when they reached San Fran- 
cisco; and he urged me to hurry home and 
change my clothes as quickly as I could, because 
he had to get out of Tomales Bay on the turn 
of the tide,— now ahnost due. He informed me 
also that he was to be married that night at 
ten o'clock. I hurried Jiome and changed my 
clothes, but my wife had a presentiment of 
danger, caused by the white caps that were then 
breaking as far as the eye could reach, and she 
begged me not to go on the schooner, Isut to go 
on horseback by way of San Rafael. To please 
her I agreed, and more than once on that night's 
trip, when it was so dark I could not even see 
my horse's head, I mentally remarked that if 
it had not been for my wife's unreasonable 
fright of a few white caps I would now be in 
'the little cabin on the Long Island fast asleep. 

I reached San Rafael at midnight, and in the 
morning crossed the bay, and on reaching San 
Francisco went to the wharf where Nelson was 
to discharge cargo ; but he was not there. _ 

We could see great billows rolling in and 
breaking on the bar at the Golden Gate, and I 
noticed an elderly gentleman and a young lady 
walMng back and forth on the wharf, gazing 
anxiously out at these great billows, and from 

Wrecks of Sea Nymph and Long Iskmd 153 

the apparent anxiety shown by this young lady 
I concluded that she must be the Captain's 
fiancee, so I asked if they were looking for the 
Long Islcmd. The young lady replied : 

* ' Yes. Do you know anything about that ves- 

I answered that I had put freight on board 
of the Long Island yesterday in Tomales Bay. 
She then inquired whether I thought Nelson 
could have got out of that bay agaiast the head 
wind of yesterday. I told her that I thought 
he got out all right ; whereupon she turned white 
as a sheet, and seeing that I had frightened 
her, I made haste to explain (I did not then 
think the vessel was lost) , telling her not to be 
alarmed about Captain Nelson, that he was a 
good sailor and a careful man, that I had made 
several trips with him from Tomales to San 
Francisco, and that when he came in sight of 
the breakers he would probably run back un- 
der Point Reyes to shelter, coming in when the 
bar should be smooth again. She replied: 

"I know Nelson better than you. He had an 
appointment at our house last night with a lot 
of friends, and if he got out of Tomales yester- 
day, he is lost." 

The old gentleman, noticing the girl's agita- 
tion, gently slipped his arm around her, say- 

"Come, let's go home." 

It was now near noon, and when I went to 

154 A Calif ornia Pioneer 

tlie Russ House for lunch I learned that the 
Long Islcmd had gone to the bottom, taking 
with her Captain Nelson, two passengers, and 
three sailors, and that her freight was scat- 
tered from the North Head to Sausalito. 



In 1865 I moved to the Salinas Valley, in 
Monterey County, and here I leased from David 
Spence two leagues of land (eight thousand 
eight hundred and eighty acres) for a term of 
five years, at the annual rental of five hundred 
dollars, with the privilege of purchasing the 
west half of this ranch for the sum of fifteen 
thousand dollars; and here for some years I 
engaged in the dairying business, milking fifteen 
hundred cows. 

That part of the Salinas Valley west of Sa- 
linas was then covered with great tall mustard, 
while in the easterly direction it was a good 
grazing country. There was then a small stage 
station consisting of a cabin and bam at the 
present site of Salinas. 

I had lumber hauled from Watsonville, and 
built a residence and out-buildings at the pres- 
ent site of the Spreckels Sugar Company's big 
factory. In those years there were only two 
other buildings between my residence and the 
Oak Grove House below Soledad, — one of which 
was at the Deep WeU stage station, and the 



156 A California Pioneer 

other, a cabin occupied by David Spence on 
the river road. 

R. T. Buell was then occupying the Buena 
Vista Eancbo, across the Salinas River, and 
the mountain country there was infested with 
bears that proved very destructive to our stock, 
and some of our vaqueros proposed to stage an 
old-fashioned bull and bear fight. They built 
a six-by-eight-foot pen, the floor and all made 
of logs about one foot in diameter, with a heavy 
plank sliding door held up by a figure 4, hav- 
ing a spindle five feet long extending into the 
trap. In this pen they tied a young calf, — 
which set up a lively bawling for its mother, — 
and one of the largest cinnamon bears I have 
ever seen walked into the pen, the door closed 
behind him, and he was a prisoner. He was 
transferred to an iron cage and taken to the 
Davis place at the Hilltown crossing of the 
Salinas River, where cage and all were placed 
in a big corral. 

A wild bull was now put into the corral, and 
notices stuck up in Oastroville, Monterey, Wat- 
sonville, and around the country, announcing 
that there would be an old-fashioned buU and 
bear fight the following Sunday at twelve 
o'clock at the Davis place; and hundreds of 
people came. 

The bull's horns had been filed until they were 
very sharp ; and when everything was in readi- 

Salinas VcMey — A Bull cmd Bear Fight 157 

ness the vaqueros lassoed and threw the bull 
and tied to one of his front feet the end of a 
chain about seventy-five feet long, after which 
the bear was let out of his cage, lassoed, and 
thrown, and the other end of the chain tied to 
one of his front feet. This was to prevent 
either from running away from the other, and 
to insure a fight. But for this chain both ani- 
mals were now loose in the big corral. Nor was 
there a lack of music, for a white-haired Mexi- 
can from Castroville, — sitting astride of a pmto 
pony as old as its rider, — ^had brought with hrm 
a cracked fiddle, and he started a lively tune, 
making that old fiddle fairly squeal. 

The betting was two to one in favor of the 
bear when the fight started. There was a bam 
with a hay loft in it on one side of the corral, 
which was open from the eaves to a point about 
six feet from the ground, and this was full of 
hay and constituted the reserved section, which 
was occupied by the women and children, who 
laughed and cheered when the bull was getting 
the best of it, and who would cry when the bear 
was having the advantage. 

There were salvos of "Bravo Torol" when 
the bull had the best of it, and "Bravo Oso!" 
when Bruin had things his way; and the fight 
certainly was fierce enough. Finally, when the 
bear, standing on his hind legs, got his "arms" 
around the bull's neck, and a vicious hold with 

158 A California Pioneer 

his teeth, the bull, by a mighty effort, got one 
of his pointed horns between the bear's ribs, 
and tossed him three or four feet into the air, 
which finished the fight; for the bear had been 
gored in a vital spot, and died in a short tune. 



I COMPLETED the purcliase of tlie 4,440 acre 
tract from Spence (now worth, four hundred 
dollars per acre), and subsequently bought 
12,000 acres of the San Lorenzo Eancho, in the 
southern end of the Salinas Valley; and for 
some years prosperity smiled upon all my un- 

In 1872 I was honored by being made one of 
California's delegates to the National Republi- 
can Convention that nominated President Grant 
for his second term. 

In 1875 I was elected a member of the Cali- 
fornia Assembly, and was reelected in 1877. 

San Antonio precinct was in the southern 
part of the county, and its voting population 
was made up largely of native Calif omians, and 
it was overwhelmingly Democratic, and as I 
did not speak their language I employed Jacob 
R. Leese, a member of the well-known pioneer 
family of that name, to go with me to that pre- 
cinct. A Mexican, whom I shall call Carranza 
(that was not his name), was the Democratic 
oracle and leader of the San Antonio precinct, 


160 A Galifomia Pioneer 

and I did not intend to waste any time in solic- 
iting Carranza's support, for I tliongM it use- 
less to do so; but as we were passing Ms resi- 
dence, Leese insisted that we should at least call 
and shake hands with him. This we did, and 
while Carranza was affable enough, I saw no 
prospects of enlisting his aid in my fight. 
Leese, however, engaged Carranza in a private 
conversation in Spanish, and when we were 
about to leave, Carranza extended his hand to 
me and wished me good luck. I could not un- 
derstand why he should wish me good luck, and 
when we got out on the road I said to Leese: 

"You don't mean to say that Carranza in- 
tends to support me at the election." 

"Yes," replied Leese; "that's just what he 
is going to do." 

"Jake," said I, "you have compromised me 
in some way, in order to obtain Carranza's sup- 
port, and I do not want you to agree that I 
shall do anything that can not be done, or that 
is not proper for me to do." 

Leese replied that if I was elected I would 
find out, and if not, I would never know; but 
said that there was nothing wrong about it. _ 

There was no telegraphic communication witl 
the San Antonio precinct, and the returns fron 
there were the last to be received, but thej 
showed that Carranza had turned things upsid< 
down; and I was elected by a majority of sis 

Early Salinas Valley Politics 161 

When I first met Leese after my election I 
asked him what he had promised Carranza that 
I would do if elected, and Leese replied that 
Carranza had a son in State's Prison for horse 
stealing, and that I was to get him out. I in- 
vestigated the facts of the case and became con- 
vinced that the stealing of the horse, for which 
young Carranza had been sent to jail, was more 
of a boyish frolic or escapade than it was really 
criminal in design. C. P. Berry was chosen 
Speaker, and as I had been his opponent and 
we were friendly, I induced him to appoint me 
a member of the Committee on State Prisons, 
and this committee, >after a full investigation, 
recommended to the Governor that young Car- 
ranza be pardoned, which recommendation was 
approved by the Grovernor, and young Carranza 
was liberated. 

I am not altogether satisfied whether my con- 
nection with this transaction may be said tp 
have been altogether commendable, but I do 
not think it was "facinorous," and with this I 
dismiss it from further consideration. 

In 1876, which was, of course, a few years 
after the close of the Civil War, politics were 
considerably "warmer" than they are in these 
days of non-partisanship, and when the Elec- 
toral Commission decided that Hayes had been 
chosen over Tilden-, the storm broke out, and 
Salinas, not to be behind in the procession, 
staged the following tragedy. 

162 A California Pioneer 

There was a very portly gentleman living at 
SaUnas at that time, whom I shall call Qmrk 
(which was not his name) . He was a Pennsyl- 
vania Democrat (asserted by some narrow Ke- 
publicans to be a very bad specmien of Demo- 
crat), and he waxed very angry over the de- 
cision of the Electoral Commission, and loudly 
proclaimed that under no circumstances would 
Hayes remain seated in the Presidential chair, 
and that he, Quirk, proposed to prevent it by 
force of arms. He thereupon undertook to or- 
ganize a regiment to go back to Washington 
and remove Hayes and seat Tilden. 

Of course, the organization of this armed 
force and the carrying out of this venture re- 
quired the consumption of a reasonable quantity 
of stimulant, and Quirk started down Mam 
Street and entered one barroom after another, 
proclaiming his purpose and sohcitmg enlist- 
ments. At each place he stopped, one or more 
sympathizers would join the colors, and by tje 
time Quirk had reached the Abbott House he 
had "sharked up a list of landless resolutes 
to the number of thirty or forty, who came 
noisily trooping at his heels. 

In the lobby of the Abbott House near the 
stove sat Press Woodside, a lawyer and a 
Southern Democrat, and Quirk now addressed 
himself to this expected recruit to his force. 
After listening patiently to Quirk's vivid ac- 
count of the wrongs that were being heaped 

Early Salinas Valley/ Politics 163 

upon the grand old Democratic party by the 
"thieving Black Republicans," and after being 
fully advised of Quirk's proposed warlike ad- 
vance upon Washington, Woodside replied as 
follows : 

"Quirk, you certainly will not question my 
fealty to the Democratic party nor believe that 
I would falter in my support of its time-honored 
principles. I fully agree, with you that Tilden 
was elected, and that we have been ignomini- 
ously robbed of the presidency, yet at my years 
I feel little disposed to again take up arms 
against the constituted authorities. As you are 
aware, I saw several years' service in the late 
war, fighting for Dixie, and it was by the merest 
chance that my bones are not now bleaching 
on the banks of the Chickahominy. In that 
great contest I saw amputated legs and arms 
piled up like cord wood, and I saw numberless 
men shot so full of holes that they 'would not 
hold their " vittles. " ' I wish you all success in 
your venture, and fortified by your virility and 
energy, there can be no such thing as failure; 
but so far as I am personally concerned, I de- 
sire to say to you that I have given this entire 
matter the most respectful and prayerful con- 
sideration and reflection, and am now convinced 
to my own satisfaction that, whatever political 
party is successful, the country will last as long 
as I will, and after that it can 'gotohell.' " 



No one is very muci. interested in a liard- 
Inok story, and I hastily pass over the follow- 

In those halcyon days of yore it was pretty 
generally conceded that our great transporta- 
tion company had not been incorporated for 
charitable purposes, and the farmers of the 
Salinas "Valley complained very loudly of the 
freight rates charged upon their shipments, and 
in response to what appeared to be a very 
strong public sentiment I fathered, or promoted, 
the organization of the Monterey and Salinas 
Valley Eailroad Company, which built a nar- 
row-gauge railroad from Salinas to Monterey, 
a distance of twenty miles. This enabled the 
farmers to ship their grain to tide water, and 
resulted in a great saving in freight. 

For a short time this little railroad pros- 
pered, and then our big competitor, in order to 
recover its lost business, made a horizontal re- 
duction in its freight charges, whereupon many 
of the farmers of the Salinas Valley im- 
piediately withdrew their patronage from the 


Business Ventures 165 

little railroad and went back to their ancient 

In order completely and fnlly to equip this 
little railroad, we had to go in debt to the ex- 
tent of about $120,000.00, and this withdrawal 
of patronage made it inevitable that there would 
ultimately be foreclosure proceedings. 

I pledged my own credit, and thereby suc- 
ceeded in keeping this railroad in operation for 
about two years, saving to the shippers of the 
Salinas Valley a very considerable amount of 

In 1874 I had built the Abbott House, still a 
popular hostelry at Salinas, and in 1876-7 
Cahfornia experienced the dryest season since 
the American occupation, the rainfall in the Sa- 
linas Valley being less than five inches. 

In 1877-8 there were prospects of an enor- 
mous yield, and ia the month of April, when I 
returned from the Legislature, I had 6,000 acres 
of wheat standing level with the tops of the 
fences.; but during one night in June, when the 
wheat was in the milk, an unseasonable rain 
fell, followed by a bright sunshine the next day, 
which brought on rust; and my entire 6,000 
acres of wheat did not yield a single sack of 

"Misfortunes come not single spies, but in 
battalions," and it now developed that a com- 
mission house in San Francisco, to which I had 

166 A California Pioneer 

been shipping my produce, had appropriated 
about $45,000.00 of my money. 

The dry year, followed by the rusty year, 
necessarily caused a shrinkage in the value of 
real property, and creditors, becoming alarmed 
for the safety of their investments, very gen- 
erally either demanded additional securities, or 
pressed collection of their claims. I was caught 
in the general cataclysm, and although I had 
property that in ordinary times was worth a 
great deal more than I owed, it was now sacri- 
ficed because of the shrinkage in values, and I 
was broke, yet undismayed. 

I think I may here with propriety mention 
two incidents in connection with the Monterey 
and Salinas Valley Railroad Company, of which 
I was President. 

Wishing to avoid the importunities of people 
who I knew would be clamoring for free trans- 
portation, I procured the board of directors to 
pass a resolution forbidding the President is- 
suing such transportation. 

While this resolution was in force, a Rev. Mr. 
McGowan, an Episcopal clergyman then re- 
siding at Salinas, supported by a large delega- 
tion of the women of the congregation, solicited 
from me a pass from Salinas to Monterey and 
return, and while I was desirous of advancing 
religious affairs, at least to the small extent 
that would be accomplished by the issuance of 
free transportation to this gentleman, I was at 

Business Ventures 167 

a loss for a method of getting around the resolu- 
tion ahove referred to. 

It occurred to me that if the Rev. Mr. Mo- 
Gowan could by some means be classed as an 
employee of the company, the way would be 
open for my complying with his resquest, and 
after a little reflection it occurred to me that 
above all things else our little railroad needed 
a chaplain, whereupon I had the secretary enter 
upon his jjooks an order appointing the Rev. 
Mr. McGowan as chaplain of the Monterey and 
Salinas Valley Railroad Company, and I then 
handed him his pass. 

I here mention the dirtiest political trick 
with which I was ever connected. There was to 
be a Democratic rally at the old town of Monte- 
rey, which was to be addressed by some celeb- 
rity from San Francisco, and the chairman of 
the Democratic Central Committee came to me 
and asked me what the lowest rate would be 
for running an excurison on the night of this 
meeting. I told him that it was not a ques- 
tion of rates, that I was going to run a free 
train on that night. 

I then telegraphed to the Republican State 
Central Committee to send the best speaker 
they had to Salinas for the same night the 
meeting was to be held in Monterey, and I then 
set some men at work putting temporary sides 
on a train of forty flat cars, and placed benches 
to seat the passengers. On the day the speak- 

168 A California Pioneer 

ing was to take place I liad notices posted an- 
nouncing a free excursion from Monterey to 
Salinas ; and practically the entire population 
of Monterey came over to onr Bepublican meet- 
ing at Salinas, wMle the Democratic orator and 
a few of his friends, who refused to desert him, 
remained at the old capital. 

Conditions at that time were not what they 
are now, and then pretty nearly anything, ex- 
cept scuttling a ship or cutting a throat, was 
considered perfectly proper in matters political ; 
yet, at the same time, as I look back upon this 
incident, I do not think it very creditable, and 
make this confession to show that I am re- 



In tlie latter part of 1879 I moved to Arizona, 
in an effort to recoup my fortune. I located at 
Tombstone, and engaged in tlie milk business, 
■with fair success ; and I mention the following 
circumstance merely to illustrate the ingenuity 
of the paleface in his pursuit of the nimble 

I was supplying six cans of milk a day to one 
big hotel, and three cans a day to another; but 
the same amount was being furnished by a com- 
petitor. The landlord of one of these hotels 
complained of my milk's souring. He was 
about to stop the supply, but I induced him not 
to do so until I had an opportunity to find out 
what caused my milk to sour, — I agreeing to 
continue furnishing the milk free of charge un- 
til the difficulty should be located. I hired a 
man to act as a detective, and he quickly caught 
the second cook squeezing a pickle into the cans 
of milk I had delivered at the hotel. My com- 
petitor had paid the second cook ten dollars 
for this service. The landlord immediately 
discharged this cook and also stopped the sup- 


170 A Calif orma Pioneer 

ply from my competitor, giving all the busi- 
ness to me, wMcli was not so bad after all. 

Geronimo, the Apache chief, was now again 
on a raid. He was on the Mexican side in the 
Sierra Madre Mountains, with about three 
hundred warriors, and was occasionally sending 
parties of from twenty to thirty of his men 
back to the reservation to get supphes that his 
friends would collect, and to steal stock and 
commit murder and torture the palefaces on the 
way. I could mention many of his outrages, 
but will refer to but one. . 

His men had made a raid into New Mexico 
just east of the Arizona line, and three vaqueros 
riding the range, looking after stock, came m 
sight of a house at the edge of the timber. 
There was no smoke from the chimney ,~ and 
there was no person in sight, but as they saw a 
number of cattle at the water troughs, they con- 
cluded that the troughs were probably empty, 
for otherwise the cattle would not gather there 
at that time of day, so they rode up to investi- 
gate They found several children lying dead 
around a wagon. Their heads had been 
smashed against the hubs of the wheels. Upon 
entering the house, they found the father and 
mother dead, and as one of the party happened 
to be acquainted with the family, he exclaimed : 
"For God's sake, where is Maud [a girl of 
nineteen]? I wonder if they took her with 

In Arizona 171 

The house was thoroughly searched, and then 
the back yard, and here they found Maud, still 
alive but unconscious, her feet and hands tied, 
hanging to a meat hook that had been driven 
into a tree, and the point thrust through the 
back of her neck. She was quickly taken down, 
and one of the vaqueros started for a doctor 
twenty-five miles away, while the other two did 
what they could to revive her. But she was 
dead when the doctor arrived. 



The Government had advertised for bids to 
furnish beef cattle (about 4,000 head, more or 
less), to supply the San Carlos Indian Reserva- 
tion for the ensuing year. Two other men and 
I prepared a bid, but when our papers were 
ready we ascertained that it was too late to get 
them to San Carlos by mail in time for the 
opening of bids, and the only alternative was to 
carry our bid there on horseback. In order to 
do this it would be necessary to go through the 
Dragoon Mountains and the Pass north of the 
Graham Mountains, where, ten days before, a 
Government pack train had been robbed and 
six men killed. My partners said they would 

not make the trip for "all the d cattle in 

Arizona," so I determined to go myself. 

I was well on my way before daylight the 
next morning, expecting to reach Fort Thomas 
on the Gila, seventy-five miles away, that night, 
and thought that by starting at three o'clock 
thfe next morning I would be able to reach San 
Carlos by noon, at which time the bids were to 
be opened. I traveled along the west foot of 


An Awful Journey, and a Fool Bar gam 173 

the Dragoons, and around the north end into 
the Sulphur Spring Valley, taking care when- 
ever I sighted a clump of brush on the line of 
my trail to give it a wide berth, but I was now 
in an open plain where I could see for miles in 
all directions. The Sulphur Spring Valley is 
about one hundred miles long and about twenty- 
five miles wide, the south end of it being in 
Mexico, and the north end, where I was travel- 
ing, being completely surrounded by mountains. 

On reaching a point about five miles from 
the end of the valley where the road turns ab- 
ruptly east to the Pass heretofore mentioned, I 
met a stockman who lived in the northwestern 
part of the valley, who informed me that, by 
going through a certain box canyon I would 
save at least twelve miles' distance. Carr Ab- 
bott fashion, I took this short route. At the 
start the canyon was about sixty yards wide 
with high bluffs on each side, and a mile farther 
was from sixteen feet to sixty yards wide with 
perpendicular walls from 2,000 to 3,000 feet 
high. There was a small stream of water 
through this canyon three to four inches deep 
as it passed over the sand bars, but there were 
many deep pools where the water covered my 
saddle. The trail in many places was indis- 
tinct and overgrown with briers and berries, 
and my progress was very slow. 

Night overtook me, and in looking up I could 
see only the stars, while, looking downward, 

174 A Califorma Pioneer 

I could not even see my horse. I rode into 
one of these deep pools where the water cov- 
ered the saddle, and with a stick that I had cut 
for that purpose, was able to make my way to 
a point where the water was but two feet deep, 
by means of keeping one end of this stick on 
the bank. 

I was finally able to crawl off onto a low 
bank, and after several trials got my horse up 
also. Here was a comparatively level patch 
of sediment land, about forty feet wide and one 
hundred feet long, overgrown with blackberry 
bushes. After some difficulty I succeeded in col- 
lecting a lot of dry sycamore limbs and got a 
fire started. My horse was looking at me with 
wonder in his eyes. I removed the saddle and 
spread the blanket over him, and told him to 
help himself to blackberries, as it was all either 
of us would have for supper. Then I took off 
my clothes and hung them before the fire. The 
owls that were nesting on little shelves of the 
overhanging rooks above me were shouting 
"Who, who?" 

' ' Who, who ! " I replied. "If you knew half 
as much as an owl is supposed to know, you 
would know that there was not a man in Ari- 
zona except Carr Abbott who would be fool 
enough to be caught in such a hole as this." 

Nevertheless they were not satisfied with this 
answer and kept putting the question all 
through the long night. When my clothes got 

An Awful Journey, and a Pool Bargain 175 

dry I dressed, and sat down and leaned against 
a sycamore stump. Having notMng else to do, 
I tried to figure out how long it must have heen 
since Sulphur Spring Valley was a lake, and its 
outlet a big river wending its way to the sea, 
3,000 feet above my head ; but I became so con- 
fused in the mass of figures as they multiplied 
that I fell asleep, and when I awoke the stars 
had gone and "Old Sol" was shining on the 
top of the cliff. 

I started on my journey, and in about a mile 
came to the open country, a fertile little valley 
about two miles wide and about three mUes 
long, at least one-half of which was covered 
with blackberry bushes, clumps of sycamore 
and willow, the open glades well grassed. I 
was riding across one of these grassy spots, 
and my trail turned abruptly to the left into a 
belt of tall blackberry bushes, and there not 
more than thirty yards distant I saw seven 
black heads, that I supposed belonged to Ger- 
onimo Apaches; and as it was now up to me 
either to return through that infernal canyon 
or fight, I determined to try a bluff. So I lev- 
eled my rifle on them and yelled to them to 
throw up their hands ; and up went seven pair 
of hands accompanied by the exclamation : 
"Good Indian me, me Escamarine Indian." 
I told them to come up where I was in the 
open and to keep their hands up; which they 
did. There were three men, two squaws and 

176 A California Pioneer 

two girls, one about twelve years of age, and 
the other about sixteen or seventeen. Escama- 
rine had been an Apache chief, but because of 
his friendship for the whites, he had been de- 
posed in favor of Geronimo, and the Govern- 
ment had given him this little valley, to which 
he had moved with his cousins, his uncles, and 
his aunts, and quite a number of friends, who 
knew there was no use to fight the whites. The 
men begged for tobacco, and I gave them all 
I had. 

One of the squaws (the mother of the girls) 
took a fancy to my horse, and she wanted me 
to go to their village to see her ponies, offering 
me in exchange two of them for my horse; but 
I told her I must reach San Carlos before noon, 
and then by way of complimenting the oldest 
girl I offered to give my horse for her. 

But, quick as a flash, I realized that I had 
made a grave mistake, as Indians know nothing 
about compliments and never engage in jok- 
ing, and where a man offers to buy a girl, they 
believe he wants her, whereupon the only thing 
to settle is the price to be paid. The mother 
replied : 

"Oh, no, that girl heap good girl, heap catch 
um fish, heap work in garden, that girl worth 
ten ponies." 

I told them I was in a hurry, and bid them 
good-by; but as I turned my horse to the trail 
I caught sight of that girl's face, and never 

An Awful Journey, and a Fool Bargain 177 

before did I see so much wrath and scorn in a 
human countenance ; for the idea that she was 
not worth ten ponies was unbearable. As the 
whole crowd now looked mad, and I seemed to 
be in for a row with these friendly Indians, I 
was in a quandary, and did not know what to 
do or say. At length, believing that it was not 
likely I would see them again, and as it was 
also probable that this girl's heart would not 
thereby be broken, and as I was closely sur- 
rounded on all sides, I asked the mother how 
old the girl was. She replied that the last notch 
on her age rod was seventeen, and in two 
months more there would be another notch. 

"All right," I said, "in two weeks I will 
come with the ponies." 

At these words the girl's face fairly beamed, 
and she asked me where my wigwam was, to 
which I replied that it was just across the moun- 
tains in the big valley (a lie of course). 

"Aw," she said, "there is a trail over the 
mountain, and I can go from your wigwam to 
the Escamarine village in four hours and carry 
a papoose, and when you come with the ponies 
come that way, because Geronimo Indians are 
sometimes in the Black Canyon, and they kill 
you and take the ponies." 

"All right," I said; "good-by." 

This girl was a beauty. She was without 
paint or whitewash, above medium height, 
weighed about one hundred and sixty pounds, 

178 A California Pioneer 

and her hair, whicli was cut in front ahout half 
an inch above the eyebrows, fell to her waist at 
the back. She had round features, a mouth 
like a slit in a Lodi watermelon, and was ele- 
gantly attired in raw-hide sandals and a white 
man's overshirt. I never saw her afterward, 
but I heard from her, as I will hereafter relate. 
I reached San Carlos at half past eleven in 
the morning, but as our bid was not the lowest 
we did not get the contract. 

On my return I did not go by the Escama- 
rine village, but, giving it a wide berth, went up 
the Gila to Fort Thomas, and through the Pass 
north of the Graham Mountains, where the Gov- 
ernment train, to which I have heretofore re- 
ferred, had been destroyed. There was at least 
an acre that was white with flour, sugar, rice, 
and so on, while the Indians on the Eeservation 
were grumbling and growling because their ra- 
tions were shortened by this pillage. 

A few hours later I met an Indian, and I 
stopped and prepared for business ; but he took 
a paper out of his pocket, waved it, and kept 
coming. When he reached me he handed the 
paper to me. It stated that he was a friendly 
Indian, in the employ of the Government, that 
he should be allowed to pass, and it was signed 
by the commander at Fort Thomas. 


I SPENT the last night of this trip in a little 
mining town on the eastern side of Sulphur 
Spring Valley called Dos Cabezos (Two 
Heads), so named from two lofty peaks just 
back of the town. About three hundred miners 
lived here together, as a protection against 
raids of the Indians. 

There was a large adobe hotel at this place 
having a barroom about eighteen by twenty- 
four feet, near the center of which was a great 
box stove with an iron railing around it. In 
the evening after supper this big barroom was 
filled with miners, and they began telling In- 
dian stories, the story-telling being started by 
a blacksmith who had had one heel amputated, 
because of a bullet that had been shot into it by 
an Apache. 

He told about having been driving along the 
road with his partner and being ambushed by 
the Indians, who were concealed in me^quite 
brush on higher ground at their left. The 
horses of the blacksmith and his partner were 
killed by the Indians, and were then used as 


180 A California Pioneer 

breastworks while the Indians were fought back, 
and in retreating down the road on the run, the 
bullet had struck the blacksmith's heel. The 
blacksmith and his partner reached a small 
knob, close up to the mountain, which was cov- 
ered with big bowlders, and they hastily built 
a pen of these and got inside, while the In- 
dians surrounded them and remained just out 
of gunshot. After it got dark the partner had 
crawled through the ring of Indians and 
reached the village about six miles away, re- 
turning at the break of day with about seventy- 
five men. Several of the Indians were killed, 
and the blacksmith and his partner had killed 
three of them in the skirmish the day before. 
This story was followed by others, which grew 
in size until none were believed. 

An elderly man, called "Uncle Ben," sat near 
the stove with his feet on the railing, smoking 
a corncob pipe; and as he had been in that 
country before the American occupation, he 
was asked several times to tell of his experi- 
ences with the Indians. To this request he al- 
ways replied that he had never had any scraps 
with the Indians worth telling; but the crowd 
was insistent, so finally Uncle Ben related the 
following story. 

Once he and four other men were on a pros- 
pecting trip in the Dragoon Mountains, and they 
were going up a canyon across a little flat, about 
sixty feet wide. In the rainy season a small 

Uncle Ben's Escape 181 

stream ran down tMs canyon, but at the time 
to wMch he was referring the bed of the stream 
was dry sand and gravel, and about ten feet 
below the flat. On both sides the mountains 
were very steep, and well covered with timber. 
Without warning, he said, "there came a storm 
of arrows from our front, and there were so 
many of them we thought it best to retreat, 
but on turning back we discovered more In- 
dians behind us than there were in front, and 
behind the trees in all directions black heads 
would appear, and 'zip' came the arrows. We 
got behind trees and rocks ourselves, and fired 
until our ammunition was exhausted, th6n got 
down on the sandy bed of the creek and, using 
our rifles as war-clubs, fought these black devils 
with desperation, ' ' 

Proceeding, he told of the death of each of 
his companions, describing them separately and 
winding up with poor old Bill Jones, his part- 
ner, who got locked with a big Indian, and over 
and down they went, with Bill on top ; but three 
or four hatchets quickly cut him to pieces. 

"At that moment," said Uncle Ben, "I was 
striking an Indian over his head with my war- 
club, when another one made a lunge at me with 
his one-tined spear, which hit me in my left 
shoulder just under the collarbone, and came 
out of my back. I hit my heels against the brute 
I had brained with a blow from my war-club, 
and went over on my back. Half a dozen of 

182 A California Pioneer 

these black devils then pounced upon me and 
stretched my hands and feet out and ran their 
spears down through them into the sand." 

By this time Uncle Ben's pipe had gone out, 
and he scratched match after match, until he 
finally got it going again. All the while there 
was perfect silence, for everybody was waiting 
for the finish of the yarn. Yet none came. 
Uncle Ben just smoked and smoked. At length 
some one sitting behind him said : 

"Well, Uncle Ben, how did you get away?" 
Uncle Ben turned to him and answered : 

"Young man, you must have gone crazy. I 
did not get away — the killed me. ' ' 



I MADE a trip to the valley of tlie Little Col- 
orado in tlie early 80 's, for the purpose of buy- 
ing stock cattle for my Sulphur Spring Valley 
ranch. It was a journey of two hundred miles, 
and Geronimo was again in the Sierra Madre 
Mountains, while his scouts were on the route 
between that point and San Carlos, stealing and 

I traveled from Tombstone to the Sulphur 
Spring Valley on the road that passes between 
the Dragoon Mountains and the Whetstone 
Mountains, — as that pass was three miles broad 
and mostly clear of brush,— reaching the 
Hooker ranch, opposite Fort Grant, where I 
spent the night. 

The next day I reached Fort Thomas, at the 
Gila. San Carlos is down the river about forty 
miles from Fort Thomas in a northwesterly 
direction, and the land along the river at this 
point is level and fertile, and about a mile and 
a half wide, — the road running along the south- 
em edge of the level land, close to a range of 
bluffs about sixty feet high. 


184 A California Pioneer 

On going down tMs road the next day, wlien 
about ten miles from San Carlos I came to an 
old river channel, about one hundred feet wide 
and twenty feet deep, the banks of which were 
worn down so that one could ride in and out 
at any point, as far as I could see. Great syca- 
more and Cottonwood trees along this channel 
shut off a view of the country beyond, but upon 
reaching this channel I heard the strajigest 
noise I had ever heard. I stopped and lis- 
tened, then I concluded to ride across the chan- 
nel and see what caused this sound. And let 
me observe just here that this is not the first 
time a man has got himself into trouble by 
sticking his nose into other men's business; for, 
upon reaching the level land beyond the chan- 
nel, I found myself within thirty yards of an 
Indian war dance. 

Two logs, about two and a half feet apart, 
held between them a fire, which had been weU 
burned down, and scraps of iron, wagon-tires, 
and axles had been laid across these logs, on 
top of which the carcass of a mule was being 
roasted, and there were about forty men, with 
alternate stripes of red and black in perpendicu- 
lar lines on their faces, marching around the fire 
and chanting, — ^not in unison, for every one 
yelled as he pleased, leaping into the air and 
brandishing weapons in illustration of how they 
would cut the white men's heads off. These 
were the recruits for Geronimo's army. Out- 

An 'Apache War Bonce 185 

side this dance ring was another ring of about 
five hundred Indians, — including men, women 
and children, — ^wh.o sat on the ground, and just 
back of this second ring across from where I 
was, two posts had been set in the ground, and 
a pole lashed between them, against which rifles 
by the dozen were leaning. 
' My gaze at this scene lasted but a few sec- 
onds, for about twenty of these warriors im- 
mediately caught sight of me ; and knowing that, 
whether I was a Government scout or a rancher, 
I would notify the army officers, they broke for 
their rifles. I jerked one line of my bridle 
reins and poked my spur into the flank on the 
opposite side of my horse. The animal turned 
a square corner on his hind feet, and down we 
went on a dead run through that old channel. 

Upon reaching the road, I leaned forward 
and plied the quirt, and was well down the road 
when bullets from their rifles began kicking up 
the dust not twenty yards behind me. At least 
fifteen or twenty of those Indians were stand- 
ing in the road opposite the war-dance shooting 
at me. Notwithstanding my hurried glance at 
the war dance, I had observed a large number 
of horses hitched at the edge of the timber along 
the old channel where it meandered to the north, 
and I feared trouble from that quarter; so I 
kept my eyes in that direction, and very soon at 
kast twenty-five of these Indians were on their 
horses, giving chase. They must have known 

186 A California Pioneer 

that unless I was overtaken I would report 
what I had seen to the army officers, and as a 
result every one of these recruits would be 
killed before they reached the Mexican line; 
because every military post on the way would 
be watching for them. 

I was not alarmed at the Indians on horse- 
back, for they were now north, — a mile away. 
My horse weighed about 1,100 pounds, was 
only five years old and fast, and, while I kept 
up a lively lope, I saved his wind for the last 

When the Indians came out of the timber they 
were in a bunch, but by the time we had run a 
mile, all but four of them had given up the 
chase and stopped. These four, however, were 
getting a little too close. I now let my horse 
out at his top speed, and had no difficulty in 
leaving them, because their horses had run at 
top speed from the start, and at least a half- 
mile of that run had been on rough ground 
before they reached the road; so they now aU 
gave up the chase. 

It was five miles now to San Carlos, which I 
reached in safety; but my horse was still white 
with foam. Here I found what you might call 
a corral of about two acres fenced in with an 
adobe wall, four feet thick and sixteen feet high. 
The Government buildings were inside, while a 
door twenty inches wide afforded the only en- 
trance. Upon informing the guard at the door 

An Apache War Dance 187 

that I wanted to see the commander, lie replied : 

"Oh, another soared rancher. He will not 
see yon." 

I asked the guard to inform the commander 
that I had a letter to be shown at any of the 
military posts, entitling me to pass on my way. 
He did this, and this gained me admission. 

The General, a fine-looking man with iron 
gray hair, was sitting at his desk, and looking 
up with a smile, said : 

"I suppose you have seen a band of burros 
in the mirage and thought they were Indians; 
the ranchers keep us sending soldiers out on 
some such bugaboo stories." 

I simply handed him the letter, and upon ob- 
serving that it was from Hooker of Sulphur 
Spring Valley, he remarked that he was an old 
friend of his, and he asked me what I had to re- 
port. I then told him what I have just related. 

Without a word to me, he turned to his tele- 
graph operator and dictated a telegram to the 
commander at Fort Grant, ordering him to 
watch the Pass north of the Graham Moun- 
tains, and another to the commander at Fort 
Thomas to watch the river bottom and the 
rolling hills to the north. 

The General was very angry, and striking 
his desk with his fist, declared that his scouts, 
whose duty it was to watch that section of the 
country, had probably been asleep in the shade. 

188 A Galiforma Pioneer 

and lie would see tliat they were given some 
shade in the guard house. 

As darkness came, the commander at Fort 
Thomas sent out a hundred soldiers, fifty of 
whom went into the hills to the north, and fifty 
to the river bottom. This fertile river bottom 
was covered with tall blade grass, weeds and 
mesquite brush from three to four feet high, 
and there was a broad trail through it, which 
two scouts were sent down the river to watch, 
and when they heard the Indians coming they 
returned and reported, whereupon the fifty men 
concealed themselves in the weeds about ten 
feet from the trail, and when the Indians came 
along, these soldiers sprang to their feet and 
killed them all, with the exception of one who 
was at the rear and out of reach of the bullets. 



Theee was a good military wagon road from 
San Carlos to Fort Apache and Verde in the 
White Mountains, but at Globe City, thirty- 
five miles to the north, there was a man I 
wanted to see, and I went there expecting to 
return to San Carlos ; but I did not. 

Here I made the acquaintance of some butch- 
ers, two of whom were going on a cattle- 
bujdng expedition, and as I was looking for 
stock cattle, we concluded to travel together 
by a trail that would save about thirty-five 
miles, instead of going back out of our way to 
get to the wagon road. The trail from Globe 
City ran nearly east for many miles over a 
rough country, with narrow grassy mesas and 
deep brushy canyons, to the foot of a high 
mountain lying west of the Black River, which 
stream ran nearly north at that point. Upon 
reaching the summit of this mountain we came 
to an Indian "book" which must have been 
hundreds of years old, for it was now thirty 
feet in diameter and nearly five feet high in 
the center. These ' ' books ' ' are found at promi- 


190 A California Pioneer 

nent points along Indian trails, and if a pass- 
ing Indian wants to let Ms friends know when 
lie passed, when he will return, or, — ^in war 
time, — if he has seen the enemy, he secures a 
lot of little sticks, or heavy spears of grass, 
and places them on this "book" ia such a man- 
ner as to be intelligible to the others ; then he 
places little stones about the size of a walnut, 
or a hen's egg, upon these sticks, or spears of 
grass, to keep them from being displaced by 
the wind; and, as generations pass, the "book" 
continues to grow. 

The eastern slope of the mountain was very 
steep, heavily timbered, and the trail zigzagged 
through rough canyons. We therefore did not 
reach the river until after sundown, and here 
we went into camp. 

The next morning we had to cross the river, 
which on our side had a long sandy beach, the 
depth of the water increasing gradually, while 
the bank on the other side was perpendicular 
and about ten feet high, with a place cut down 
to the water's edge, of sufficient width for 
a horseman to pass. About seventy-five yards 
below this "outcome," on the other side, was 
a fall of at least one foot in three, filled with 
bowlders from ten to twenty feet in diameter, 
around which the water swirled in milky foam 
that sparkled in the sunlight. 

We started into the river well above the out- 
come, — ^my companions in the lead, — and when 

Seemg the Cowntry 191 

about twenty-five yards from the outcome the 
bottom fell out, and while my companions got 
through all right, my horse went down like a 
rock, taking me with him. When we came to 
the surface I slipped off his back and caught 
hold of his tail, and got him headed for the 
east bank. Along this bank there was a belt of 
willows which came close to the edge of the 
water, and while my horse got his front feet 
in among these willows, the water was so deep 
that his hind feet did not touch the bottom, and 
there he stood up as straight as a man. I 
caught hold of the horn of the saddle with one 
hand and the willows with the other, and took a 
rest; and I was now surprised to see that we 
were only about sixty feet above a cataract. 
My companions came with their picket ropes, 
which they tied together, and they then put a 
loop over my horse's head, fixing it so that it 
would not choke him. Then, as I pushed my 
horse away from the bank, my companions 
pulled both horse and me through the deep 
water, I clinging to the pommel of the saddle, 
and we were finally landed safely at the out- 

After drying my clothes and reloading my 
rifle and pistol, we started on up the stream. 
My companions had had a little drawing made 
by a man who had been over the trail, but he 
had failed to delineate a small stream that en- 
tered the Black Eiver, about five miles above 

192 A Calif orma Pioneer 

this crossing, and by mistake we followed this 
small stream. 

On onr right, to the south, there was a high 
ridge heavily timbered, which was fairly alive 
with wild turkeys, while on our left were low 
rolling hUls heavily grassed. The stream up 
which we were traveling kept getting smaller, 
and we began to think our drawing must be 
wrong, but we continued on, and shortly after 
sundown came to the head of this stream, which 
was in a broad flat of about one hundred acres. 

At the upper end of this flat we observed 
some smoke, and we immediately concluded that 
it was an Apache camp fire. But by slipping 
around on the north side of the flat and taking 
observations, we discovered no Indians in sight; 
and we then ascertained that, while it was an 
Indian fire, it had been recently deserted. 
There were two green poles about five inches 
apart, with a smoldering fire between them, and 
a row of rocks about six inches in diameter, 
hot and ready for use. The Indians make 
water-tight baskets, into which they put their 
food to cook, — ^whether it be beef, turkeys, or 
manzanita berries and grasshoppers. Into the 
basket they then put a hot rock, and when the 
heat gets low they put this rock back over the 
fire and replace it with a hot one. We had a 
very light supper, as we had expected by this 
time to reach Fort Apache, and after picketing 
our horses two of our company slept while the 

Seeing the Cotmtry 193 

third watched, taking turns. But we were not 

The next day we reached Fort Apache, where 
I handed my letter to the commander, and told 
him of the business of myself and companions. 
He gave us necessary directions and said that 
it would be perfectly safe to where we were go- 
ing, but that on our way back we should not 
fail to call on him, as it might not then be safe 
to travel south. 

The next day we crossed the White Moun- 
tains. It was the second day of May, and the 
snow was ten feet deep at the summit. On the 
northern slopes at that point the timber con- 
sisted of poplar, ash and tamarack, the alti- 
tude being too high for pine or oak, while on 
the eastern slope toward the valley there were 
long, smooth spurs, with grass on the south and 
timber on the north. The valley is about eighty 
miles long and forty-five miles wide, and the 
soil from the foot of the mountain to the little 
Colorado River is thin and gravelly and grow- 
ing short gramma grass fit only for sheep pas- 
ture. It is sparsely inhabited by a population 
of which nine-tenths are Mormons, and ten- 
tenths as poor as the soil. 

We reached St. Johns, the county seat of 
Apache County, at sundown. St. Johns was 
composed exclusively of adobe buildings, — 
some of them covered with earth, and others 
with shingles, and at that time boasted a popu- 

194 A California Pioneer 

lation of about 1,200. At each ranch there were 
several houses, in each of which was a wife 
with a flock of babies, and all getting ready for 
the war to maintain polygamy. 

The next morning my compamons and i 
started,— they going to the northeast while I 
went to the northwestern part of the valley, i 
went to the foot of a high ridge (a spur of the 
"White Mountains), from which elevation I could 
see the entire valley, which appeared to be 
surrounded by mountains ; and I wondered how 
the river got out. The owner of the ranch at 
this point was a Mormon,— who had four 
houses, four wives, and children enough to make 
a full company, officers and all, in case of war,— 
and he informed me that there was a box can- 
yon, only a mile away, through which the water 
passed to the main Colorado River, thirty-five 
miles away. I wanted to go up and see this 
canyon, but he told me it was dangerous to go 
near it, as a little slide of earth might come and 
carry me down three or four thousand feet, and 
that he had been compelled to build a fence to 
keep his cattle from falling in when they were 
grazing in that part of the country. I was 
eager, however, to go, and he pointed out the 

^Upon arriving at the fence he had referred 
to I tied one end of my picket rope around one 
of my ankles, and then carried the other end 
around one of the fence posts, and, holding the 

Seeing the Cov/ntry 195 

rope in my hands, crawled towards the edge of 
the abyss, paying out the rope as I went. I 
could make but a poor guess as to the distance 
to the bottom, but I presume this Mormon was 
correct. The roar of the water, as it leaped 
• over perpendicular falls and impinged against 
huge bowlders, was deafening. I carefully 
crawled back to the fence, keeping the rope 
taut as I went, and, as it was now noon, I sat 
down under a big oak. While eating my lunch 
I endeavored to figure out how the Powers that 
Be had made such a country as this, and my 
conclusion was this: 

Away back in the dim twilight of the past, the 
Colorado ran along the surface of the country, 
and this valley constituted a lake about one 
hundred miles long and sixty miles wide, cov- 
ering the high benches. Then a large river had 
passed over this saddle in the mountain and 
joined the Colorado River, and as that stream 
cut its way down into the bedrock formation, 
its tributaries did the same. During the centur- 
ies that this lake was in existence, little 
streams, pouring into it from all sides, car- 
ried decayed vegetation and silt till there prob- 
ably must have been a deposit twenty-five feet 
in depth at the bottom. But, as the Little Col- 
orado cut its way toward bedrock to meet simi- 
lar action on the part of the large river, the 
lake had been drained, and as every raindrop 
moved a particle of this fertile deposit toward 

196 !^ California Pioneer 

tlie center, it had all been carried away to the 
Gulf of California, leaving nothing but the poor 
gravelly soil, now tilled by the Mormons. It 
was easy to believe that this must have taken 
untold thousands of years, for a huge job was 
involved, and all those little streams,^ as they 
came down from the mountains on all sides, had 
cut channels across the mesas in solid bedrock, 
from the foot of the mountain to the river, and 
from two hundred to four hundred feet deep. 

I reached my hotel at eight o'clock that eve- 
ning, and here again joined my former com- 
panions, and the next day we traveled to the 
southeastern part of the valley. We came to 
a canyon, which for a distance of twelve miles 
was approximately four hundred feet deep, and 
at one place as this canyon had been worn down, 
and at a point about two hundred feet from the 
upper surface, there was a stratum of soft rock 
about twenty feet thick, in which we found a 
cave about twenty feet high, two hundred feet 
deep and three-quarters of a mile long. It 
seemed probable that a jam of logs or other 
construction had blocked the far end of the 
cave, and the water had then been turned back 
into its old channel, and had worn its way down 
two hundred feet more to the present bottom 
of the canyon. 

About twenty feet back from the front, there 
was a wall four feet thick, composed of slate 
rock, each piece of which was not too large for 

Seeing the Cowntry 197 

a man to handle, and there was no ledge of 
slate rock nearer than twelve miles from this 
cave. This wall extended the entire length of 
the front of the cave (three-quarters of a mile), 
and every hundred feet there was an entrance 
four feet wide and four feet high, arched over 
at the top. Having no lanterns and no shields 
to protect our faces from being struck by the 
swarm of bats flying about this cave, we did not 
enter to investigate ; but as I stood contemplat- 
ing this former abode of man I reflected that 
millions of years ago inhabitants of just such 
caves as this built canals which, though they 
can now be followed with difficulty, are distinct 
enough to show that the grades were as perfect 
as they could be made by the engineers of the 
present day. The tooth of time has mutilated 
or destroyed most of those things that exhibit 
the skill and resources of the Cliff Dwellers, but 
enough remains to prove that the present day 
has no monopoly upon either human ingenuity 
or intelligence, for these ancient artisans 
planned and built, cultivated the soil, and loved, 
hated, and fought precisely as we do. 

At a settlement, in an extension of the main 
valley, we mentioned this big cave to a gentle- 
man, and he informed us concerning its interior. 
He told us that midway between the entrances 
in the front wall there were walls two feet thick 
extending to the back end of the cave, and that 
each one of these walls or partitions had a door 

198 A California Pioneer 

in it, or an entrance similar to the ones in tlie 
front wall; that in the lapse of centuries the 
accumulations of the droppings from the bats 
was a foot deep on the floors, and that m each 
of the separate compartments there was a 
mound about a foot above the level, which, 
when opened, was found to contain coal ashes, 
stones axes, and hammers, pottery, arrow- 
heads, and petrified human bones. 

We attended a dance at this settlement the 
night we were there. It was held in an adobe 
building about sixty feet long and about twenty 
feet wide, with a partition in the center, the 
floor being made of puncheon (boards four teet 
long,— split instead of being sawed). Not hav- 
ing been yet introduced to any of the ladies, 1 
had not joined in the dance, and gave this as a 
reason when asked by one of the promoters why 
I had not danced. He informed me that it was 
not customary there to introduce anybody, but 
iust to get your eye on some lady and ask her 
to dance, and it would be all right. I told hmi 
I did not have sufficient ' ' cheek" to do this. He 
asked me who I cared to dance with, and I an- 
swered: „ ., 
"That brunette near the farther end ot tne 


' ' Brunette ? brunette r ' he repeated. ' ' There 
is no lady here by that name." 

Then I pointed at the lady with long black 
curls, and we were introduced and danced to- 

Seemg the Cowntry 199 

gether. She wore a cheap Dolly Varden, with 
print flowers as large as a man's hand while 
about her neck was a red ribbon, on which was 
suspended a looking-glass about the size of a 
half-dollar, and as she wore men's brogan shoes 
it is needless to say that we made the puncheon 



The following day I went back to Fort 
Apache, on my way to Tombstone, and here I 
called on the General to inquire whether it 
would be safe for me to travel south. He re- 
plied that he considered it safe as far as Camp 
Cramer on Ash Creek plain, and he gave me 
a letter to Captain Cramer, telling him to di- 
rect me, if it were safe to travel, and if not, 
to hold me there until it was. 

It was forty miles to Camp Cramer, but there 
was a good military wagon road, with a light 
grade for five miles through heavy timber to a 
high undulating grassy mesa which extended 
for many miles. Approaching the Ash Creek 
plains, I went down a long canyon, through 
which trickled a small stream of water, that 
ultimately passed through Camp Cramer at the 
northern edge of the plain, which is about forty 
mUes long and ten miles wide, and which is lo- 
cated at the head waters of the San Carlos 

Camp Cramer is an ideal place for a camp, 
and as you approach it, it very much resembles 


Presentiments 201 

an old orcliard; but the trees are white oak, 
about two feet in diameter and twenty to fifty 
feet apart, with no underbrush. The little 
stream running through it sinks in the plain, ex- 
cept in the winter season, when there is suf- 
ficient rainfall to carry the water to the San 
Carlos River. The plain is well grassed and 
has high mountains on both sides, with numer- 
ous springs at their feet. I presented my letter 
to Captain Cramer, and after reading it care- 
fully, he arranged for me to remain there over- 
night, telling me not to leave in the morning 
without seeing him. 

The next morning I called on him and again 
asked him if he thought it safe for me to pur- 
sue my journey. He replied that "no news was 
good news," and he had not heard from his 
scouts in the mountains, who could look across 
the plain into the canyons on the opposite side. 
He told me it was forty miles to San Carlos in 
a southwesterly direction, and then it would be 
forty miles up the Gila in a southeasterly di- 
rection, to Fort Thomas. The latter place, 
however, he informed me, was less than forty 
miles from Camp Cramer, and that, by going by 
the trail over the mountain, half of the distance 
could be saved. He also said that the trail 
across the plain was not very distinct, and that 
I might lose it, but that I would pick it up on 
the east side of "that knob with timber on it" 
(pointing diagonally across the plain), which 

202 A California Pioneer 

was eighteen or nineteen miles away. He 
added that when I got there, I should go around 
the knob to the west, and there I would find 
Antelope Spring, with plenty of grass for my 
horse to graze on while I ate my lunch. 

I reached this spring just before noon, and as 
I was not hungry I concluded to lie down and 
take a rest and to allow my horse to graze for a 
little while,' and then to eat my lunch on the 
way and drink from my canteen. I gave the 
horse the length of the picket rope and lay 
down, but I had a presentiment of danger, and 
was impressed with the idea that I should not 
remain there. Because of this knob, I could 
not see along the foothills to the east; but I 
climbed to the top, and there were no Indians 
in sight. After doing this I climbed another 
spur that came down into the plain just be- 
low the spring, and there were no Indians to 
be seen there. I then returned to the spring 
and again lay down, but I could not dismiss the 
idea that danger was near; so I filled my can- 
teen, mounted my horse, and was away on the 

After going about half a mile I met two 
niiners,^both young men from Michigan, — on 
horseback, with two mules packed with a regu- 
lar miner's outfit, grub, and tools. They in- 
quired of me the distance to Camp Cramer, 
and also asked if there was any water on the 
way, saying that, in coming up the steep south 

Presewtiments 203 

side of the mountains, it had been terrible hot, 
that their stock wanted water, that their can- 
teens were empty and they very thirsty. Still 
oppressed with the idea of danger at Antelope 
Spring, I told them that there was no water 
along the trail, but that they could get water 
at Camp Cramer; whereupon they asked me if 
I could not spare them a drink out of my can- 
teen. I handed my canteen to them, asking 
them to leave just enough for a drink when I 
reached the top of the mountain. Upon putting 
the canteen to his lips the first one took a good 
look at me and said : 

' ' This water did not come from Camp Cramer 
this hot day, for it is cold, and the can is full; 
what is the reason you do not tell us where we 
can get water?" 

The fact is that I was fearful of danger at 
Antelope Spring, and knowing that these men 
would stop there if I informed them where it 
was, I had determined to deceive them. I now 
said to them that it was for their sake that I 
had not infornied them about the spring, but I 
finally told them that, if they would do as I 
directed, I would tell them where the spring 
was. To this they agreed. I then told them 
why I had left the spring, and as I had antici- 
pated, they had a good laugh over it, calling me 
an old fogy. I then directed them to where the 
spring was, and cautioned them not to remain 
there but to leave as soon as they had watered 

204 A Califomia Pioneer 

their stock, and to get out at least a mile on 
tlie plain, where they could see around them, 
and rest and graze their stock there. 

We now parted, — ^I going on up the canyon, 
and the two men down toward Antelope 
Spring, singing, "The Old Oaken Bucket." 
The very next day I learned that, within fifteen 
minutes after we separated, both of these men 
had been shot to death by Indians at Antelope 

It appears that soon after I left Camp 
Cramer a Government scout had reported there 
that about forty Apache warriors had been dis- 
covered sneaking along the ridge between the 
Gila River and the Ash Creek plain, and going 
in the direction of Antelope Spring, and this 
gang of cutthroats had evidently reached Ante- 
lope Spring within a very few minutes after 
I had left there. 

Some years afterwards, in relating this inci- 
dent to a friend of mine, I referred to my eon- 
duct as simply extra caution; but he said he 
would call it an extraordinary hunch. 



Living at Tombstone was a certain gentle- 
man, whom I will call Brown (that was not his 
name), who had heen Police Judge of Tomb- 
stone for two years, and an election was at 
hand, in which Brown was a candidate to suc- 
ceed himself. There was being published at 
that time in Tombstone a daily paper called the 
Tombstone Clarion, and on the very day before 
election it came out vdth a big headliner stating 
that Colonel Brown was a patron of the "Bird 
Cage," a very notorious and, — as I am reliably 
informed, — an exceedingly questionable resort. 

Very much like the miner who was struck in 
the belly with a sandstone specimen. Colonel 
Brown was doubled up like a jackknife by this 
editorial blast, and gave up the fight, say- 
ing that such an article would kill anybody's 
chances, if there were no reply, and that there 
was not sufficient time within which to make a 

It happened that that very night a big Re- 
publican rally was to be held, and the meeting 
was to be addressed by the candidate for Terri- 


206 A California Pioneer 

torial Delegate to Congress as well as the local 
candidates for other offices. 

Colonel Brown though a Republican candi- 
date positively refused to attend this meet- 
ing, but about a dozen of his friends went 
to his office and practically forced him to put 
on his hat and overcoat. Then they hustled 
him downstairs and over to the theater and out 
on the stage, upon which all of the candidates 
for office, to be voted for the next day, were 
seated. After all the other candidates had 
finished their speeches, there were loud and 
persistent calls from all parts of the audience 
for Colonel Brown, and they were kept up and 
increased in violence, until they could not be 
ignored; whereupon the Colonel stepped before 
the footlights. 

He was very tall, a little stooped, and had a 
head as bare as a doorknob. After walking 
nervously back and forth across the front of 
the stage two or three times, running his fingers 
over his bald head, as if in search for a stray 
hair, he began : 

' ' Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen : I am 
not here for the purpose of charging that my 
distinguished opponent for the office of Police 
Judge is the butt-cut of original sin, nor that 
he is a dirty, mangy, lousy dog, and a disgrace 
to his own fleas, nor do I assert that he is a 
squint-eyed, consumptive liar, with a breath like 
a buzzard, and a record like a convict, for I re- 

Arizona Politics 207 

gard Mm as a highly estimable gentleman, but 
in this morning's issue of the Tombstone Clar- 
ion I am directly accused of being a patron of 
the 'Bird Cage.' I here and now repudiate 
and deny the infamous inference which this 
editorial seeks to convey ; but far be it from me 
to engage in any endeavor to mislead or de- 
ceive the good people of this city. I am frank 
to admit that at one time I did visit the 'Bird 
Cage,' but I want it distinctly understood that 
on that particular occasion mi/ wife was in 

The walls and rafters of that big building 
shook with the tumult caused by this naive 
declaration on the part of the Colonel, and when 
order had been restored, and after the Colonel 
had again walked three or four times across 
the stage, still running his fingers over his 
dome of thought, he continued : 

* ' When my wife was at home, it was always 
my custom to leave my office at about six o 'clock 
in the evening, and to either entertain my 
friends at my home or call upon them at their 
home; but after my wife went to visit her 
friends in Texas, I found it so lonesome at the 
house that I generally spent my evenings at the 
office and entertained my friends there. Upon 
the evening to which the Morning Bladder, 
otherwise known as the Tombstone Clarion, re- 
fers, at about ten o'clock I was passing the 
'Bird Cage,' and as I had had so many cases 

208 A California Pioneer 

brought before me, involving crimes committed 
in that den of iniquity, I thought I would drop 
in and see just what kind of a place it was. So 
I forthwith procured a ticket and entered. 

"Directly in front sat the audience, and be- 
yond I saw the stage, while to my left there was 
a bar from which about a half dozen bar-maids, 
carrying little trays, were filling orders and de- 
livering drinks to the patrons. From this bar, 
and extending to the stage, there was a row 
of boxes, while, on the opposite side, a similar 
row of boxes extended the entire length of the 
room. In front of these boxes, and for the ob- 
vious purpose of concealing the inmates, cur- 
tains were hung, and if the occupants had even 
a little pride left they of course did not wish to 
be seen, and the curtain would be down. If the 
man had still a small spark of self-respect left, 
he might draw back the edge of the curtain 
nearest the stage, so that he could witness the 
performance, while at the same time running 
the risk of being seen himself; but if he did 
not care for his reputation, or had none to care 
for, and had lost all self-respect, the curtain 
was drawn entirely back. And behold ! In one 
of those wide open boxes, and to my utter 
amazement, I observed the editor of the Tomb- 
stone Clarion, while upon his knee sat the no- 
torious female character known as 'Brick Top,' 
whom I have been compelled to send to jail no 
less than eight times for being drunk and dis- 

Arizona Politics 209 

orderly ; and, to make matters still more abomi- 
nable and nauseating, my distinguisbed friend, 
tbe editor and bis boon companion 'Brick Top,' 
were swilling stale beer." 

Tbe next day Colonel Brown buried bis op- 
ponent beneatb an avalancbe of votes. 



It will be remembered tbat, on my way to 
San Carlos to bid for the supplying of beef 
cattle, I had made a proposition to some Es- 
camarine Indians to exchange ten ponies for a 
young Indian girl. 

I was now running a dairy of one hundred 
cows at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains, 
about twelve miles from Tombstone, and about 
a quarter of a mile away from the road that 
led across the Sulphur Spring Valley to the 
timber country in the mountains to the east. 

One morning about ten o'clock we found a 
wagon loaded with lumber, standing in this road 
near the point where it made the turn toward 
our house. The teamster lay on the ground 
dead, but stiU warm, and the harness was scat- 
tered all about. Footprints indicated that 
this butchery had been caused by Indians con- 
cealed behind clumps of mesquite brush near 
the road. The Indians in that country would 
at times remain quiet for months, and then, 
without warning, they would suddenly swoop 
down upon the unprepared ranchers or f reight- 


A Reminder of a Fool Bargain 211 

ers. By agreement among the ranchers the 
mayor was to be informed of the presence of 
Indians when discovered, and he in turn would 
send word to the nearest military post and the 
citiziens generally, whereupon horsemen would 
be sent out in a hurry to inform white people 
living out in the country. 

I had with me at this dairy, besides my son 
Frank, one Mexican and two Swiss. I sent the 
Mexican with a note to the Mayor, and sent 
the Swiss boys to bring in the cows ; but these 
men were so alarmed that as soon as they got 
out of sight they fled for town, and as a result 
Frank and I had to do the milking. We were 
able to bring in ninety-nine of the cows (one of 
them being missing), and, with a rifle lying 
down at our side, completed the milking of these 
ninety-nine cows at nine o'clock that night, 
when Frank started for town with the milk. 

Knowing that if another band of Indians 
came along in the night they would probably 
burn down the house and shoot me as I en- 
deavored to escape, I took a pair of blankets and 
my rifle and went out on the plain, where I 
crawled into a clump of mesquite brush and re- 
mained until Frank's return, about ten o'clock 
the next morning, — ^the three hired men com- 
ing with him. 

My missing cow had been purchased by me on 
the opposite side of the valley, and thinking 

212 A Ccdifomia Pioneer 

that perhaps she had started for her old home 
and might stop at some water hole in the center 
of the valley, I saddled the best horse I had, 
taking my rifle with me, and started out to 
search for her. 

On the way I avoided patches of brush or 
low swags in the plain, and just before reaching 
some low land I passed down a small ravine 
about forty yards long. Being unable to see 
but a short distance ahead, I took my rifle from 
its scabbard, which hung to the pommel of the 
saddle, and held it pointed along the trail in 
front of me. In rounding a short turn, I met 
an Indian in precisely the same condition of 
preparedness. He had a red handkerchief tied 
around his head, and in smiling showed a set 
of teeth each one of which was nearly as broad 
as my thumbnail. He rode a big black horse, — 
which I afterwards learned had been stolen 
from one of my neighbors, — ^was riding without 
a saddle, and had a piece of rawhide for a 

The trail was so narrow that only friends 
could pass, and as our horses came to a stop 
their heads were not more than five feet apart. 
These Indians can understand and make them- 
selves understood. 

"How do you do?" I said. 

"How?" he replied. 

I asked him if he had seen a big brown cow. 

A Reminder of a Fool Bargain 213 

"No see him," lie replied. In speaking, the 
Indian never uses the feminine gender. 

By way of keeping up the conversation I 
asked him where he was going, and was all the 
time hoping that by some movement of his horse 
the muzzle of his rifle might be turned aside 
for an instant, affording me an opportunity to 
draw mine, but I quickly appreciated that he 
was on the watch for an opportunity of doing 
precisely the same thing. In answer to my 
question he replied: 

' ' Go see my friends. ' ' I told him I could tell 
him where they were: they were at Willow 
Springs in the Whetstone Mountains, and had 
gone there yesterday morning. He then en- 
deavored to get me to look in some other di- 
rection, asking: 

"Where water?" I looked him straight in 
the eye, and I told him to go back to the low 
ground, turn to the right, and, by following the 
edge of the low ground about four hundred 
yards, he would come to a big spring. The 
"game," however, did not work, for he simply 
grinned and showed his big teeth. 

Then, with ferocity darting from his eyes, he 

"I think I know you." 

"No!" I replied, "you never saw me be- 

To this he said : 

214 A Calif omia Pioneer 

"No; me no see you. My niece lie tell me. 
He say you go tlie Black canyon. You buy him 
ten ponies. You no go git." 

I laughed and denied knowing where the 
Black canyon was, and said that I had never 
seen his niece (I now fervently wished I never 
had encountered that charmer), and that it 
must have heen some other man, but he per- 
sisted : 

"Me think yes. My niece he say how big 
you. He say hair little gray, eye heap sharp, 
all same eagle." 

I answered that he was mistaken and added : 


"Good-by," he returned. 

But neither of us moved an inch, whereupon 
I pulled on the lines with my left hand and made 
my horse move one step back, saying again : 


He did the same thing, for he was as anxious 
to get rid of me as I was to get rid of him, and 
when we had backed our horses about twenty 
feet each, we were out of sight of each other. 

There was a little higher ground on my right, 
which I had to pass in returning, and I thought 
the Indian would make a break for it in order to 
get the advantage of the first shot, if I kept up 
the traU. In a few quick jumps I reached this 
high ground, and springing from my horse, 
waited for a black head to show itself above this 
little mesa; but it did not appear. After a 

A Reminder of a Fool Bargain 215 

short wait I heard a whoop, and looking across 
the low ground in the direction from which the 
sound came, I saw the old rascal waving his 
red handkerchief and defying me with his 
"Whool Whoo!" 



John Noonan lived at the moutli of a long 
canyon that canae down from the Dragoon 
Mountains on the Sulphur VaUey side, ahout 
ten imles from where I was then living. 
[ During the rainy season an abundajice of 
"^ater for stock purposes came down this can- 
yon, and about six feet below the surface there 
was plenty of water to be found at all seasons 
of the year. 

Noonan was a stock rancher, and he had dug 
a well and put in a low row of watering troughs 
at a point about one hundred feet from the foot 
of a spur of the mountain, which -jutted out 
into the valley and which was about fifty feet 
high and covered with bowlders. At the foot 
of this spur Noonan had built his cabin, and 
as there was no other water to be had within 
ten miles, his stock, consisting of about a hun- 
dred head, came home at noon to drink. 

One day at noon, while the stock was at the 
troughs, Noonan observed about sixty Apache 
warriors on the plain, headed for his place. 
He quickly grabbed his rifle and hid up among 


The Apache Indian amd His Atrocities 217 

these big bowlders. When about half a mile 
distant the main body of the Indians stopped, 
while ten of their number came on to Noonan's 
cabin, each of them armed with a rifle, carried 
cocked and ready for use. 

Upon reaching the cabin, Noonan observed 
one of them knock on the door, whUe the other 
nine stood ready for action, with their rifles 
pointing at the door. Finding no one at home, 
the entire band of Indians now came up and 
camped. They started a fire and then began 
to kill Noonan's cattle, roast the meat on sticks, 
and skin the sides of the heads for sandals. 
They then packed upon their horses the hind 
quarters of the cattle they had killed, and left 
the remainder of the carcasses to rot. They 
then shot all the balance of Noonan's cattle 
just to see them fall, and, incidentally, to show 
the whites their contempt for the race. 

The Indians remained at Noonan's place un- 
til about four o'clock in the afternoon, and then, 
with the exception of one "buck," who had 
eaten more than he could carry away, they left. 
This straggler went to sleep, and in about an 
hour got up and went to the water trough and 
leaned over to drink with his rear pointed in 
Noonan's direction. The others of the gang 
were by this time too far away to hear a rifle 
shot, so Noonan drew a bead on this "buck," 
and the bullet went clear through, coming out 
at the neck below the chin. Noonan afterwards 

218 A California Pioneer 

told me lie did not tMnk the bullet struck a 
single bone. Noonan was advised not to re- 
main at his place, but he disregarded this ad- 
vice and re-stocked the place. 

"While it is said the Indian never forgets a 
favor, it is certain he never forgets nor for- 
gives an injury; and two years later sixteen 
Indians from San Carlos kiUed Noonan ; and I 
happened to be along at the time his body was 
found. It was riddled with bullets, unspeak- 
ably mutilated, and was lying on the floor, while 
upon and over it, probably to the depth of a 
foot, had been scattered flour, rice, ashes, 
pickles, syrup, sugar, beans, and other supplies, 
while his bunks, table, and dishes had been all 
smashed to pieces. 



Mb. and Mrs. Peck and a niece of the lat- 
ter, — aged about twelve years, — ^lived six miles 
east of Nogales on the Arizona side of the line. 
Peck was a stock rancher, and one day while 
absent from home looking after his stock, an 
old Apache chief named Whoo, with his band 
of seventy-five cutthroats, came to Peck's 
house, and killed Mrs. Peek, and putting the 
girl on a horse behind an Indian, took her away 
with them. 

Upon reaching a point about two miles from 
the ranch, they met Peck driving about ten 
head of cattle, which they took from him. They 
then bound him and lashed him to a tree, leav- 
ing his feet about two feet above the ground, 
piled dry wood around him, and were about to 
start a fire, when two Indians and a Mexican, 
who had lagged behind the band, came up. 
This Mexican was a bad character, and after 
committing some crime he had joined this In- 
dian band in order to evade the law officers; 
but at one time he had been in Peck's employ. 
He now interceded for Peck, telling the Indians 


220 A California Pioneer 

that Peck was a good man, never bothered the 
Indians, and always took their part in any dis- 
cussion in reference to them. The last part of 
this statement was a pure invention, but it had 
its effect; for Peck was immediately released. 

The niece was still sitting on the horse be- 
hind the Indian, of course crying as though her 
heart would break, and the Mexican now began 
to plead for her release ; but the Indians would 
not listen to such a proposition, as they wanted 
to keep her to be a wife for one of their young 

From this point the band went over the line 
into Mexico, and camped in a long canyon ; and 
here, having been located by the Mexican scouts, 
two hundred Mexican soldiers were sent after 
them, and at a given signal one hundred of 
these soldiers attacked from the east side and 
the other hundred from the west. 

The Indians were taken by surprise, and a 
large number of them were killed, but some of 
them on horses escaped into the timber, and 
among those escaping was the one who had the 
girl behind him. 

In passing at breakneck speed over a smooth 
place, where the bedrock was on the surface of 
the ground, his horse fell, which resulted in 
dismounting both the Indian and the panic- 
stricken girl. She had sense enough left, how- 
ever, to lie down behind a rock until the shoot- 
ing at the Indian, as he continued on foot up 

The Peck Family 221 

the slope, ceased; whereupon she ran down to 
the soldiers, who took her to Hermosillo, and 
sent her from there to Nogales. But as soon 
as she reached the ground she started on foot 
back for the home of her lonely uncle. 



Thebb is no fictitious nonsense about the love 
story I am now to relate. 

Here were no purling brooks beneath am- 
brosial shades, no waving pines to furnish 
-(Eolian music for the weary, no laughing wave- 
lets along a sandy beach, where levesiok swains 
wander when the moon is full; for there was 
no running water there, no timber larger than 
greasewood and wild sage, and no beach nearer 
than the Gulf of California, — two hundred and 
fifty miles away. 

A man, whom I will call Davenport, was fore- 
man of a gang of men in the Grand Central 
Mine, and he lived, with an invalid wife and 
daughter Agnes, in a modest white cottage on 
Third Street, south of Allen. Davenport was 
a blond, while his wife was a curly haired bru- 
nette, and Agnes, partaking of the type of both, 
had a profusion of long brown curls hung over 
her shoulders. She was not only a very attrac- 
tive young woman, but was, as well, really a 
wonderful player of the piano. 

One day the father fell down a three hundred 

An Arizona, Romance 223 

foot shaft, and was instantly killed on the bed- 
rock at the bottom. At one time he had had 
a bank account amounting to a few hundred dol- 
lars, but the protracted illness of his wife had 
steadUy reduced this "nest egg,^^ and the ex- 
penses attending his funeral used up the bal- 
ance; and so, with the bread-winner of the 
family gone, Agnes was in almost hopeless de- 

She sought employment among the mer- 
chants, but girls were not then employed in the 
stores at Tombstone. Then she endeavored to 
organize a class in music, but the population of 
Tombstone had not gone to that sage-brush 
country to learn music but to get rich and then 
go back to their homes; therefore failure also 
met this attempt. 

At that time there lived at Tombstone a man 
by the name of Johnson who conducted the larg- 
est gambling house in town, and while his mor- 
als may not have pleased everybody, he was 
widely known for his charity. No unfortunate 
miner ever asked Johnson for help without get- 
ting it, nor did any deserving cause fail to en- 
list his financial assistance. As a consequence, 
Johnson was known, at least by sight, to every 
inhabitant of Tombstone. He was tall, straight 
as a candle, and had dark brown hair, and when 
he was observed hurrying along the street, men, 
who would not speak to him because of his oc- 
cupation, would remark : 

224 A California Pioneer 

"There goes Johnson, Some one must be 
sick or hurt." 

Johnson's place of business was at the comer 
of Allen and Fourth Street, the entrance be- 
ing on Fourth Street near the comer. The 
room was a large one, and at the rear end there 
was a bar, beside which was a lunch counter, 
where patrons were accommodated with short 
orders. Farther along, across the end of the 
room, was a music loft, — elevated about four 
or five feet above the floor, — ^which accom- 
modated a piano, while on the east side of the 
room there was a row of sofas and easy chairs. 
The center of the room was occupied by tables, 
which Johnson rented to men who were con- 
ducting banking games, monte, roulette, etc. 
There was no charge made for the poker tables, 
and the players came and went away as they 
got broke. 

Johnson himself seldom gambled, and his in- 
come came almost altogether from the bar, the 
lunch counter, and the rent of the tables. 

At the Davenport cottage the last meal had 
been eaten, and Agnes had again started up- 
town in search of employment, when, after go- 
ing about a block, she met Johnson, whom she 
knew by sight. Agnes had determined upon 
two things. One of these was that she would 
not beg, and the other that she would have em- 
ployment of some kind. 

Upon meeting Johnson, she addressed him. 

^n Arizona Romance 225 

"This is Mr. Johnson, I helieve," she began. 

"Yes," he replied; "that is my name." 

"My name is Agnes Davenport," she added. 

At this Johnson asked her if she was the 
daughter of John Davenport, who had been 
killed in the Grand Central Mine. Agnes re- 
plied that she was, and went on to say that she 
and her mother had just eaten the last meal in 
the house. Johnson immediately put his hand 
in his pocket, but Agnes checked him by say- 

"Hold on. I am not begging, — ^I would 
rather starve than beg, — ^but I do want work." 

Then she proceeded to tell Johnson that she 
had tried to sell their house and lot for enough 
money to take her and her invalid mother back 
East to their friends, but because of the bill 
which was then pending in Congress to repeal 
the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, a buyer for 
the cottage could not be found at any price; 
that she had tried to get emplojrment in the 
stores, and had then tried to get up a music 
class, but she had only met with failure. 

Johnson told her that the very reasons which 
had made it impossible for her to get employ- 
ment would make it impossible for him to ob- 
tain employment for her, to which Agnes re- 

"I know of a place I can fill, and you can give 
it to me." 

226 A California Pioneer 

"What is it?" asked Johnson. "I should 
certainly like to know." 

"I want to play the piano in your place of 
business," replied Agnes. 

"Oh, no!" said Johnson. "That would not 
do at all. Think of your reputation." 

"I have thought of it, and dreamed about it; 
but we can not eat reputation, and we must 
eat," replied Agnes. 

"But," said Johnson, "you will hear pro- 
fanity, perhaps vulgarity, and possibly now and 
then the crack of a pistol." 

To this Agnes answered that she could make 
music that would drown any racket of that kind. 

Johnson gazed at the ground reflectively for 
a few seconds before saying: 

"Very well, if you want to try the place, you 
may consider yourself engaged, and your wages 
will be eight dollars per night. You must be 
there at eight o'clock in the evening, and re- 
main until the place is closed, which may be 
at any time from midnight until sunrise; but 
your wages will be the same whether the time 
is long or short, and they will be paid to you 
every night at closing time." 

Agnes thanked him profusely, and then said 
to hiTTi that now that she had employment she 
wished to borrow the amount of one night's 
wages. Whereupon Johnson handed her a ten 
dollar gold piece on account. He then told her 
that he wanted her to go now to his place of 

'An Arizona Romance 227 

business, so that he could hear some of the 
music she had told him about, — ^musio that 
would drown the crack of a pistol. 

They entered the barroom, and Johnson, with 
Agnes following him, elbowed his way among 
the tables and gamblers, with which the place 
was well filled, and on up to the music loft. 
Agnes ran her fingers lightly over the keys, and 
then struck up a piece called "A Storm at Sea," 
— a good representation of the thunder made by 
great rollers breaking upon a rockbound coast. 

The loungers on the sofas and easy chairs 
leaned forward, holding their cigars between 
their fingers, and listened; the man behind the 
bar spilled the liquor he was serving; while the 
cook behind the lunch counter let the beefsteak 
bum, and the gamblers about the tables, with 
their money piled up and their cards in their 
hands, sat spellbound as they gazed in the di- 
rection of the music loft. 

After Agnes had finished the piece, Johnson 
told her that that would do very well, where- 
upon Agnes said to him, as the music loft 
was wide open, that during her rest moments 
some of these objectionable men would very 
likely be coming up to the loft, and unless some 
friend of hers should call, she very much pre- 
ferred to be alone. It was therefore arranged 
that if any undesirable person obtruded himself, 
Agnes was to strike certain notes as a signal, 
whereupon either Johnson or the barkeeper, if 

228 ^A California Pioneer 

Jolinson should be absent, would remove the ob- 
jectionable person from the nmsic loft. Agnes 
also made the request that no man who drank 
or played cards should be introduced to 
her, as they would also likely be coming to the 
loft. This was agreed to, whereupon Johnson 
led the way to the door, and bid Agnes good- 

He then turned to the crowd around the 
tables, who had not returned to their play but 
were waiting to hear from Johnson as to who 
she was and where he found her, Johnson in- 
formed them that she was a lady, and that any 
man who spoke to her without an introduction 
would be ejected from the place, and that who- 
ever spoke an improper word to her would not 
live to get out. He then told them that she was 
poor, and was working to earn sufficient money 
to take her invalid mother back east to their 
friends; that she was to be treated with re- 
spect, and when she was going in or out of the 
room they were to stand aside and permit her 
to pass. 

Agnes ' playing proved a great drawing card 
for Johnson's gambling place, and there were 
many men who had never entered such a place 
before who now called to listen to the music; 
and, as they did not drink, they either bought 
cigars or patronized the lunch counter. 

Agnes had a few male friends who used fre- 
quently to call and chat with her during her 

'An 'Arizona Romance 229 

rest moments, but her friends among the 
women were not so charitahle, and had de- 
serted her completely, and in meeting her upon 
the street they would turn their faces heaven- 
ward and gaze into the clouds or at the stars. 
Agnes had been a great favorite, especially with 
the churches, which wanted her in their choirs, 
and hitherto no social gathering had been com- 
plete without her presence, due to her singing 
and her playing. At all the picnics in the grove 
at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains it had 
been the same. Now, however, she was pointed 
out on the streets as "the girl who plays the 
piano at Johnson's gambling place." 

Regardless of all criticism, the big gambling 
house continued to prosper and flourish, and 
the "wicked" Johnson still kept up in his work 
of charity. 

Many were the applicants, among Johnson's 
regular patrons, for an introduction to Agnes; 
but they all knew that the drinker and the gam- 
bler were barred, and all Johnson needed to re- 
ply was : ' ' No. I saw you playing for money, ' ' 
or, "I saw you at the bar a little while ago." 

There was a blacksmith by the name of John 
Gibson, who conducted a shop on Fremont 
Street. He was about twenty-five years old, a 
little below medium height, had dark brown 
hair, and a right arm made hard as steel by 
his work upon the anvil. 

Attracted by the music, Gibson dropped into 

230 A California Pioneer 

Johnson's 'place one evening, and he was so 
taken with either the music or the musician that 
he became a regular attendant. He at length 
asked Johnson for an introduction to Agnes, 
and as his greatest sin consisted of smoking, 
his request was granted, and he chatted with 
her a few moments during her rest time, and 
had the good sense to leave when it was time 
for the music to begin again. 

He now became not only a regular attendant 
at Johnson's but a frequent caller upon Agnes, 
and in time began to escort her home after the 
night's work was over. As this sometimes did 
not happen until daylight, Gibson found that 
his late hours very much interfered with his 
work in the shop the next day. He was now 
becoming really very much interested in Agnes, 
and he contrived to go to bed very early, and 
to get up at midnight, when he would repair to 
Johnson's and wait for Agnes until the place 
closed up, when he would escort her safely 

William Billings was a patron of Johnson's 
bar, and he gambled in a smaU way. He was 
not, I think, a heavy drinker, but with a few 
drinks he seemed to be irresistibly attracted to 
the music loft ; and there he went on more than 
one occasion. Each time Agnes gave the 
agreed signal, whereupon either Johnson or the 
barkeeper came to the loft and removed the 
objectionable Billings. 

An Arizona Bomcmce 231 

On the particular night to which I am about 
to refer, Johnson's place closed a few minutes 
before midnight, and Billings, somewhat in 
liquor, was on the sidewalk when Agnes came 
out on her way home. He accosted her and in- 
vited her to go across the street with him to a 
restaurant to have a cup of coffee before she 
went home. She made no reply but started 
walking rapidly down the street; whereupon 
Billings caught her by the arm and pulled her 
from the sidewalk, as he again invited her to 
go to the restaurant. 

At this psychological moment John Gibson 
came around the comer, and immediately 
realized the situation. He hurried to Agnes' 
side, and instantly that strong right arm shot 
out with the impulse of a trip-hammer, struck 
Billings on the temple, and felled him like an 

On the way to Agnes' home hardly a word 
had been said by either her or Gibson, but as 
she bid him good-night, at the door, John 
finally discovered that he had a tongue, and his 
reply was : 

"Not yet. I want to talk to you a few min- 

Proceeding, he told her that she had worked 
in that place long enough, and that some night, 
when he did not happen to be around, she would 
get into some serious trouble. Agnes replied 
that she had not worked there quite long enough, 

232 'A California Pioneer 

but that in ten days more she would have 
enough money to take her mother back East in 
a palace car. 

"But," said John, "I have a proposition to 
make to you." 

"Is it better than eight dollars a night?" she 

After a laugh, John answered: 

"I do not think you would get eight dollars 
every night, but it would be better than that in 
the long run. I propose right now to go to 
the residence of the County Clerk and get a mar- 
riage license. Then I will come back for you, 
and we will go to the Magistrate and get mar- 

To this Agnes replied that she did not be- 
lieve in pulling people out of bed at that time 
of night, but that if he would come around at 
ten o'clock in the morning she would be ready. 
Agreed ! 

At ten o'clock the next momiag John Gibson 
was in jail, and Agnes was being subpoenaed 
as a witness at the inquest to be held by the 
coroner upon the body of Billings. 

As Billings had dropped to the ground, the 
back of his neck struck on the comer of the 
plank sidewalk curbing, his neck was broken, 
and he died almost instantly. 

At the coroner's inquest Agnes gave her testi- 
mony, as did also three other eyewitnesses, and 

uin Arizona Bom<mc6 233 

the following verdict was returned by the cor- 
oner's jury: 

"We, the jury impaneled and sworn in this 
case, do find that the name of the deceased was 
Willing Billings, that he was a miner by occupa- 
tion, and residing at Tombstone, Arizona. We 
further find that he came to his death by a fall." 

Gibson was liberated, he and Agnes were mar- 
ried that afternoon, and within a few days they, 
with Agnes' invalid mother, left for the north- 

Three years later I met a gentleman who 
knew them in their new home. Gibson was stiU 
pounding iron, while Agnes was looking after 
the house and playing the organ in the Episco- 
pal church. A little black-eyed Agnes was 
keeping them company. 


The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase 
Act put a crimp in silver mining in Arizona as 
well as elsewhere, and the busiest day that ever 
dawned upon Tombstone was now at hand. 
From mines that had been employing thousands 
of men the pumping plants were being hoisted 
to the surface to be cleaned, greased, and either 
stored away or shipped to other sections, where 
they could be used in the gold mines. The six- 
teen-mule teams, which had been taxed to the 
utmost in hauling silver ore to the mills, were 
now started on their last trip, while the drivers 
were wondering where they could get new em- 
ployment. The merchants were repacking their 
stocks of merchandise for shipment to other 
places, while in the residential section of the 
city there was an incessant diu of hammers as 
the furniture and household effects were being 
boxed and crated for removal. The doors and 
windows were now the most valuable parts of 
a house, because they could be carried away for 
use elsewhere. In fine, what had been the 
thriving city of Tombstone took on the re- 
semblance of an army breaking camp, and 
everybody seemed anxious to get away. 


Epilogue 235 

With many others I trekked northward, and 
ultimately again reached the Salinas Valley, 
where I have since resided. Events have 
proved that all of my experiences worth noting 
were to end in Arizona, for since I left there not 
an incident in my life has been worth setting 

In this retrospect of a life now far exceeding 
the allotted span of three score years and ten, 
I am fortunate in the possession of a memory 
that, with astonishing clearness, brings before 
me the varying incidents, both pleasant and un- 
pleasant, of all those bygone days. 

In common with the great generality of man- 
kind, the sun has often brightened, and clouds 
have at times obscured and darkened, my path- 
way toward the setting sun. 

Some of my experiences were not altogether 
pleasant, and others of them I would avoid if 
I were to go over the route a second time. But 
now I am approaching the end of the long trail, 
with neither misgiving nor discontent, feeling 
quite well assured that, everything considered, 
I have had a pretty good time after aU.